THE Customs House has been given a standing ovation for developing the talents of young thespians.
The venue, in Mill Dam, has become an Arts Award Practice Centre after being recognised as among the best in the country.
The Customs House – and its sister venue The CustomSpace – has seen young people gain Arts Award qualifications in everything from lighting design to break dancing, and physical theatre to stand-up comedy.
Outside of formal education, The Customs House has also delivered Arts Award through a young mums unit, a children in care council, a Glee club, and, most recently, with foster carers and their families through the Arts Award Reaching Out project called Families who Foster, with the National Children’s Bureau.
Customs House executive director, Ray Spencer MBE, said the Customs House team has worked “so hard” to achieve the accolade.
“It’s extremely rewarding to know our hard work has paid off and as a result we can bring even more young people through their chosen arts award programme,” he said.
“From 5,000 schools and art centres across England delivering Arts Award we are one of just 18 Good Practice Centres, one of two in the region and the only arts centre to hold this prestigious status in the north east.”
The Customs House team conduct in-house sessions, work with schools, community groups, through work placement and volunteering schemes to try to give youngsters the opportunity to fulfill their potential.
Since 2009, Customs House has supported more than 200 young people to achieve Arts Awards, and dozens of teachers are trained as Arts Award advisors every year.
Cultural development officer and Arts Award advisor Fiona Kelly added: “It’s very rewarding to know you are nurturing the talents of future artists and helping them to explore their talents but also to giving young people opportunities to achieve in their art form and be accredited for their efforts.
“We are thrilled Trinity College has given The Customs House Good Practice Centre status.”
The Good Practice Centre status has been awarded by Trinity College London, which manages Arts Award alongside Arts Council England.
Head of Arts Programmes at Trinity College London, Alice Young, said: “Our cultural development team work so hard to deliver Arts Award and I’m thrilled that they have been given the recognition they rightly deserve.”