Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Village Arts was a community organisation of charitable status, which was founded in 1981 to promote and
develop the arts in the rural villages of East Cleveland. Based at Stable House, Loftus.

Established by Community artist Doff Pollard and Lorna Price, Village Arts were instrumental in developing community arts festivals in East Cleveland villages such as Skinningrove and in initiating Village Verses (1982), East Cleveland Women Live ( 1983) writing projects in Skinningrove are in the early 80's resulting in a TV programme for Channel four Broadside production.

Doff Pollard was also involved in the Write Together project with Keith Armstrong, bringing together the North East Community Arts organisations and Worker Writer groups together.More on that in a separate post.

Village Arts continued to be an important Community Arts force in East Cleveland for over thirty years and later around 2000 performance poet Val McGee (aka Maggie McGee) worked for them.


Cleveland Arts was established in 1982 as an independent arts organisation which was supported by Cleveland Music Festival and also presented specific arts events, usually in partnership with others in the county. In 1982 the director was Dennis Coe.
Northern Arts and Cleveland County Council. It's main task was to assist in the development of new and existing arts activities in Cleveland, in association with local authorities and other arts organisations and local groups. It provided advice and support in all the major arts forms, cooperated in a variety of county wide arts activities such as the

In 2000 Cleveland Arts was re-branded Tees Valley Arts and focussed more on Arts and Education owing to changes in local authority arts development policies.

Cleveland Arts played a major role in the Creative Writing and Literature scene from 1987 when Trev Teasdel and Terry Lawson decided to take the work of Outlet Magazine forward and create a community based, Cleveland wide Literature festival that eventually became known as Write Around. Trev and Terry were busy with Outlet, tutoring courses and other work and called on Cleveland Arts to help develop ideas and achieve funding for the festival. Outlet brought representatives from the areas writers groups and other contacts from Hartlepool to Whitby and Cleveland brought the Representatives from Arts organisations, local authority and the Libraries and leisure around the table for two years of negotiations before the first Write Around was launched in 1989.

Write Around continued annually for 11 years, mostly thanks to the continued work of Andy Croft. Meanwhile Multicultural Officer Neelam Dhamrait (who was an enormous support during early Write Around) engaged an Asian Writer in residence around 1989.

Developments around Write Around led to the establishment of an Official Literature Development Officer in the early 90's  - Mark Robinson, a Poet and editor himself who rose to become Director of Cleveland Arts and then for Arts Council North East. Andy Croft and Mark Robinson formed Buzzwords through the Cleveland Arts Literature programme in the mid to late 90's with Bob Beagrie as the Literature Development worker.

Cleveland Arts and Tees Valley Arts has continued their literature work through organisations like Creative Partnerships, developing writer in residencies in schools.

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