An arts venue which helped keep a town’s cultural community groups alive is set to close next year. 

The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts, on Hundens Lane, Darlington, became the base for dozens of creative groups after their previous arts centre venue closed in 2012. 

Darlington Borough Council, which ran and closed the town centre venue, owns the current building but said it was not behind the decision to close. 

The community-led venue also houses the Community Art Project and was home to organisations such as the Press Gang Etching Group and Darlington Media Group, as well as the monthly Arts Café.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts in Darlington

The project provides an opportunity for adults with learning disabilities to try out visual arts activities with support and encouragement from a professional artist.

But a final closure date of March 31, 2024, has now been confirmed.

“The Bridge has advised us it will cease operations as both a registered company and a registered charity,” said a spokeswoman from Darlington Council. 

“The council currently pays The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts charity for use of the facility to house the Community Arts Project, as do individuals running art courses and groups who hold weekly or monthly art sessions there.  

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“The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts charity has advised current hirers of its decision and where possible the council will signpost people to alternative facilities they might consider hiring and each will decide their best option beyond 31 March 2024.  

Continuing the Community Arts Project is a council priority and officials are exploring options to relocate to a new venue, the local authority said. 

The spokeswoman added: “The charity has operated The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts building on a lease from the council for more than five years and we recognise the fantastic contribution it has made to the visual arts in Darlington during this time.”