A charity is delighted to see builders return to complete work on a new extension aimed at engaging people in arts and culture in east Durham.
East Durham Trust had spent two years raising over £100,000 to develop an Arts Café at their premises in Peterlee. The work commenced back in April, but was immediately halted due to the coronavirus lockdown and government guidelines around social distancing. Work has recommenced and is scheduled to complete by August.
The facility is part of a drive by the trust’s East Durham Creates initiative, funded by the Arts Council. The building will also be used to support families facing financial difficulty and is seen as a natural extension to some of the charity’s other activities such as the Foodbank and the People’s Takeaway food delivery service.
Chief Executive, Malcolm Fallow said, “It’s great to see the builders back in action, although in the current climate a café may seem like an unlikely venture, we firmly believe that facilities like this will play a major role in getting our community back on it’s feet as we come out of these terrible times.”
East Durham Creates was formed to address the issue of low engagement with the arts and culture in the district.
Mr Fallow said: “East Durham was highlighted as one of the areas in the country among the lowest in terms of art and cultural engagement."
“One of the reasons for that is that it doesn’t have a major theatre, or gallery and is made up of small communities that couldn’t support such a thing. People tend to travel 10 to 20 miles if they want to partake in arts and culture – to the major centres such as Durham, Sunderland and Newcastle.”
He added: “In an area that has significant number of people who are financial disadvantaged, it is always going to be an issue, because of travel and the cost involved.
“So what we are trying to do at East Durham Creates is to come up with a relatively small venue. It’s never going to compete with larger venues, but it would be nice to have a few smaller venues to allow the area to punch above its weight. We are delighted to have got support for this from the local authority and individual councillors.”
Mr Fallow said: “One of the things we will be looking to do when Covid-19 is cleared up and the building is completed is to hold events that do have an arts or cultural aspect but where people can be fed, in the same way that our Food Takeway has helped people. "So we will be killing two birds with one stone, in terms of helping those who are financial disadvantaged, but also art and cultural engagement.
“We are gong to be as diverse as we can, staging everything from photographic exhibitions to comedy nights to music events. If we can light the fire in people with regard to certain art forms, we can then support them in going to facilities in some of the major centers.”
East Durham Trust
T: 0191 5693511