Newton Aycliffe arts centre, Greenfield Arts, to close

Greenfield Arts, an arts hub that has served both Greenfield Community College and the wider Newton Aycliffe community, will close its current sure at the college at the end of August. 

This closure follows a “long and successful collaboration” between Greenfield Arts and the community college. 

Though the organisation is currently on the lookout for a space to continue its work in Newton Aycliffe and Shildon, negotiations have not yet secured a new location. 

The centre was opened in 2000 with the support of the Arts Council and Great Aycliffe Town Council, realising the determination and vision of former Headmaster Mike Thornton. 

The Northern Echo: The creative forum at Greenfield ArtsThe creative forum at Greenfield Arts (Image: Greenfield Arts)

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The centre has served both the school and the community throughout the last 23 years, attracting over 600,000 users of all generations and reaching international audiences.

Additionally, over the last two decades, hundreds of artists have taken the stage and been supported by the arts centre and Greenfield Gallery.

Over 200 exhibitions were staged at the Gallery, including Turner prize winner Lubain Himid three successful Norman Cornish exhibitions that have inspired community programmes and school projects.

The gallery – the only like facility in Newton Aycliffe – has supported artists and emerging creatives with a regular Open Art exhibition which this year attracted over thirty submissions of outstanding accomplishment. 

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Laura Towns, Arts and Communication co-ordinator, said: “We have seen artists develop over the years and gain confidence in exhibiting and progressing their craft and technique, we are very sad to be losing this facility which has brought such joy to so many people and supported the arts and students in every way.” 

Announcing their closure, Greenfield Arts thanked former director Katy Milne, saying they “owe an enormous debt” to her for “making things happen” during her 17 years of service to the centre.  

Notably, Katy worked with TED prize winner Professor Sugata creating a School in the Cloud original lab, one of seven labs worldwide, bringing creative learning to thousands of young people.  

The Greenfield Arts programme will remain vibrant up until the end with a continuous programme of events and activities in Newton Aycliffe and Shildon, including 60 live performances working alongside theatre groups such as Unfolding Theatre, Theatre Hullaballoo, Take Off Festival, Mad Alice Theatre and individual artists.

The centre closure means that a number of groups will lose their home. These include Creative Forum, Creative Wellbeing, Community Pottery, South Durham Dance, ManHealth, Darlington Association of Photographers, Synergy, Everygreen, John Melvin Guitar and singing, Floral Art and our Yoga and Spanish groups.  

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A centre spokesperson said “A big thank you to all the artists and participants over the years who have supported us and the funders and stakeholders who have made the projects and activities possible. 

“This has enabled us to inspire creative opportunities and produce high quality, dynamic and stimulating arts and activity.”

The centre’s final exhibition by Elaine Vizor and Douglas Whittaker is currently on display until 16 August 2023 and the gallery is currently open from 10:00 – 16:00.  The centre will close fully on Friday 18 August.  

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