Darlington for Culture (DfC), which support arts and culture in the borough, marked its fifth anniversary at its Annual General Meeting.
The organisation was formed in 2010 to fight to save Darlington Arts Centre, which was under threat from borough council budget cuts. DfC led the two-year campaign but it ended in disappointment in July 2012, when the centre closed.
Since then, DfC has continued to speak out against threats to arts and cultural services while also developing a 60-strong volunteer force.
The organisation, which is a Community Benefit Society, a type of co-operative, supports groups, businesses and venues with everything from promotion to volunteering.
The work has included supporting Darlington Civic Theatre as Ambassadors for the Touring Consortium Theatre company, working with businesses like Scrap Studioarts in Borough Road, co-ordinating the annual Darlington Arts Festival and running events like the open mic for writers held at Voodoo Café, Skinnergate, on a monthly basis. Volunteers also support Darlington Green Theatre’s annual Theatre in the Park performances.
DfC’s members sit on a number of key bodies, including Creative Darlington, the Volunteer Strategy and Development Group set up by Evolution, the committee which helped shape the future of Cockerton Library and the Rail Heritage Committee, whose work is centred on promoting rail heritage in the borough.
The fifth anniversary of DfC, a runner-up in the Contribution to the Arts category at the Best of Darlington event for the past two years, was marked at the AGM in the Stephenson Suite at the Dolphin Centre at 6.30pm on Friday June 26.
John Dean, DfC Chair for the past three years, said: “Darlington for Culture has undergone a tumultuous five years which has seen it establish itself as a powerful voice for the borough’s arts and cultural organisations.
“DfC has made great progress in its short history and it is vital that it continues to support the arts and culture community in any way it can, both in practical terms and in terms of giving it a strong and independent voice.
“The closure of the Arts Centre, a decision with which we have always disagreed, was a heavy blow but we have always been determined that it should not be seen as the end of the story but the beginning.”
Founder member and Volunteer Co-ordinator Heather Carter said: “I’d like to mark our fifth anniversary by saying a very special thank you to all our volunteers who regularly turn out to support such a diverse range of arts events throughout the year. They are magnificent and Darlington for Culture is very fortunate to have such a great team.”