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Community arts


Community arts aims to provide very person living in County Durham with the opportunity to participate in the arts.

All community activities are on hold due to Covid-19.

Apollo 50 celebrations 2019 in Peterlee

Mader Wiermann Light Installation (22-23 March 2019)

Commissioned by Artichoke, the celebrations to marked 50 years of the Apollo Pavilion in Peterlee and began with an animated light projection on the structure, created by the artist / architecture collective, Mader Wiermann from Berlin. This ran over two evenings, attracting over 1,200 visitors from both the local area and much further afield. 

Lift Off 

Lift Off was created by local students at East Durham College using cutting-edge video-mapping techniques. These skills were taught by experts from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The project gave the students the opportunity to explore their creativity in a high profile project and gain skills in the field of digital art and video production.

Apollo 50 birthday party (16 July 2019) 

The community gathered on Helford Road playing fields to throw a birthday party to mark 50 years to the day that the Saturn 5 rocket launched the crew of Apollo 11.

Opening with a performance of 'Pleasantville', devised by Shotton Hall Theatre School. Students then took to the stage singing solo renditions of 'When We Were Young' and 'Half the World Away', followed by a solo dance piece 'Apollo'. The celebrations finished with 'Standing on the Moon' by hundreds of children and young people led by musician and composer Barry Hyde. East Durham Dementia Friendly Choir also performed a medley of moon and space inspired songs.

Standing on the Moon

Especially commissioned for the Apollo 50 birthday party, The Futureheads Barry Hyde wrote the song 'Standing on the Moon', working with almost 500 children and young people from across Peterlee. Barry visited six primary schools and two secondary schools, to rehearse the song, which was then performed as a finale to the party to an audience of teachers, family and friends. 

Early in 2020, Barry is scheduled to go into the studio to make a recording of 'Standing on the Moon' with pupils from Howletch Lane Primary and The Academy at Shotton Hall.  

Apollo: an installation by Steve Messam (19-22 September 2019)

September 2019 saw the Apollo Pavilion transformed again, by County Durham based, world-reknowned artist Steve Messam.

Visited by 2,000 people over four days and five nights, Apollo captured the spirit of celebration with disarming simplicity: Four brightly coloured inflatable forms hugging and contrasting against the angular concrete surfaces of the Pavilion; standing out against the blue sky in day and lit up internally at night to glow in the darkness.  

The Apollo film by Robin Fearon documents the inspiration behind the work, as well as the process of it's creation by the artist and the team, installation and inflation and how schools and the community interacted with it.

Icon for pdf Apollo film transcript (PDF, 148.4kb) .

The installation and light up of and aerial film of Apollo.

Playful Places 

Playful Places saw pupils from The Academy at Shotton Hall and Dene Academy making their own work inspired by Steve Messam's Apollo.

Working with Steve and fellow artists, Sara Cooper and Vicky Holbrough, the pupils explored some creative processes within the built environment. 

At Dene Academy the students transformed the main school entrance with long tentacled limbs stretching out from first-floor windows, suggesting that a giant sea creature is bursting out from the English Department! At Shotton Hall Academy students drew inspiration from Greta Thunberg's speech delivered to the United Nations on the subject of climate change, recycling plastic carrier bags, they created an eye-catching 'rising star' installation.

This  Icon for pdf learning resource (PDF, 3.8mb)  is for teachers interested in runing their own 'Playful Places' project around public art in community spaces.

Apollo Zine (published 5 December 2019) 

Between May and November 2019, artist Theresa Easton delivered 26 workshops with 12 groups of mixed ages, across schools and community settings in Peterlee.

Together, they made hundreds of Zines (fanzines) in response to the Apollo 50 celebration events as they happened throughout the year. Icon for pdf The Zine (PDF, 6.5mb)  was included as an insert in 8,000 copies of the East Durham Life, with a further 4,000 distributed through schools and community venues.

Our programme

We engage large numbers of people in community arts activities; promoting the benefits for improved health, life long skills and confidence, as well as the enjoyment of taking part. 

Our aims

  • are to offer high quality creative engagement programmes, working with local, national and international artists
  • to respond to people and place, meeting the needs of diverse communities across County Durham
  • to work in partnership with venues, libraries, festivals and events to maximise opportunities for community arts activities
  • to develop opportunities for sustainable participation and engagement 
  • to advocate and promote the benefits of community arts and cultural engagement for wellbeing and enjoyment

To find out more about our ongoing programme of community arts activities please contact us.

Contact us
Gala Theatre and Cinema
03000 266 600
Our address is:
  • Millennium Place
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 1WA
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