How the Arts Council has supported and will continue to support Hartlepool

“We have just announced that the Tees Valley will be one of 54 priority places across England where we want to develop new opportunities for investment.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 4:35 pm

This exciting news is part of our Let’s Create strategy where creativity and culture can play a part in levelling up the country.

The five independent boroughs of Hartlepool, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, and Stockton, which make up the Tees Valley, have all the elements to further develop a flourishing cultural infrastructure.

The region’s political leadership is committed to embedding arts and culture within its social and economic planning and there is already a substantial financial commitment to growth in culture.

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Arts Council chief executive Darren Henley.

The Tees Valley Combined Authority has demonstrated its ambitions for culture by including it in its devolution deal with the Government as well as by its desire to work in partnership with the Arts Council.

They and the five independent councils that it incorporates understand the difference arts and culture can make in places like Hartlepool and we’ll now work together to realise those ambitions.

Hartlepool had to close its cultural venues last year through coronavirus and we faced a moment that threatened the existence of so many organisations who have delighted audiences for so long.

Thankfully, the Government stepped in with an unprecedented investment in the shape of the Culture Recovery Fund.

The Northern Film & TV Studios being developed at the Northern School of Art in Hartlepool.

This £2 billion injection meant we could save thousands of cultural organisations - payments from this unprecedented support have helped to keep arts organisations alive and have saved many jobs.

The Arts Council has helped distribute this funding and the financial support has never been more urgently needed or gratefully received than during the past 12 months.

In Hartlepool, almost £380,000 was distributed to a range of organisations across two rounds of funding.

Beneficiaries included Hartlepool Borough Council, Artistic Solutions, Heugh Battery Museum, the Karen Liddle School of Dance and community arts organisation Bloominart.

An aerial view of the Heugh Battery Museum, on the Headland.

This support for Hartlepool’s cultural community is on top of more than £400,000 Arts Council England has invested here since 2018.

The Arts Council was established 75 years ago, born out of the belief that the arts would lift the nation’s spirits and give hope to people as the country emerged from six dark years of the Second World War.

Today that role for our creative practitioners and cultural organisations is once again of national importance.

During lockdown, arts and creativity were prominent in helping people cope and, as we emerge from the pandemic, the creative and cultural sector will play a vital role in our country’s economic and social recovery.

It is exciting and encouraging to see theatres, museums, galleries, libraries and cultural venues open again.

Culture is right at the heart of our towns and cities, not just making our lives better but creating jobs and helping local economies.

A recent example of how the Arts Council helped to improve a main Hartlepool thoroughfare illustrates this perfectly.

We supported non-profit organisation Empty Shop in working with Hartlepool Borough Council, Northern School of Art and Church Street Heritage Townscape project to reanimate Hartlepool’s historic Church Street.

As Mayor Ben Houchen said: ‘Innovative projects such as this will boost consumer confidence and, ultimately, safeguard and grow jobs and the economy.’

Investment in culture isn’t just a nice to have – it’s a must have."

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