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Events planned to mark final days of Darlington Arts Centre
PAST and present users of an arts centre that fell victim to public spending cuts have been invited to a day of events to mark its closure.
Darlington’s 19th Century arts centre, in Vane Terrace, will close on Saturday, July 7, despite a committed campaign to keep it going.
The free 12-hour event, on Thursday, July 5, from 10am to 10pm, will include music performances and the chance to share memories of the venue.
Visitors will also be able to find out where courses, performances and other events previously staged at the centre will be held in future.
Darlington Borough Council, which owns the building, withdrew its subsidy earlier this year, as part of its budget round for 2012-13, which involved cuts across a range of services.
A council spokeswoman said: “The council remains committed to the arts and is working to ensure there will be a full arts offer in the borough after July delivered in a range of venues.”
Last month, councillors agreed to postpone the sale of the building after 11thhour plans were put forward that could offer the arts centre a potential lifeline.
Preliminary work is continuing on a project to transform the centre into a multi-use venue including a hotel, restaurant and business units.
The council agreed a six-month deferral on putting the building up for sale, while it works with businessmen Graham Thrower and Andy Bottomley on the scheme, which could create up to 100 jobs.
Known as Project Vane, the scheme would also include gallery space and improvements to existing theatre facilities.
The first annual meeting of Darlington for Culture (DFC), a group set up in 2010 to fight for the future of arts provision in the borough, was held yesterday.
Chairman Nick Brewster said DFC was in discussion with the Arts Council about a potential funding bid to help the group set up a network for artists, arts groups and clubs in the town.
He said: “With our first annual meeting, we have reached a major milestone in the life of DFC. I would like to thank all of our supporters who have helped us on the journey so far.
“We remain very disappointed that Darlington Arts Centre is to close in less than a month.
“However, we are more determined than ever to promote and protect the arts, craft and culture in our town and have positive plans for the future.”
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