New centre for nurturing creative talent in South Tyneside launches thanks for £400,000 funding

A new hub for nurturing creative talent in South Tyneside has opened up in a former storage unit.

Saturday, 4th June 2022, 6:51 pm
The Mayor and Mayoress with some of the young people who will benefit from the hub.
The Mayor and Mayoress with some of the young people who will benefit from the hub.

The new Learning and Participation Hub at The Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields, provides a space in which the charity can deliver a range of visual and performing arts opportunities to the local community.

The project was made possible with funding from the Biffa Award, part of a scheme allowing landfill site operators to contribute to good causes.

Fiona Martin, director of learning and participation at The Customs House, said: “In just ten short weeks, we have transformed what was once a storage room into an amazing multi-purpose space, complete with floor to ceiling mirrors, a sprung dance floor and projection equipment.

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"None of this would have been possible without funding from Biffa Award and we are so grateful for their support”.

The Learning and Participation Hub was officially opened by the Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Pat Hay and Mayoress, Jean Copp.

They were joined by some of the young people who will benefit from the new Hub, including Harvey Johnson, a member of The Customs House Junior Youth Theatre.

Harvey said: “I’m really excited that we have a new room for our Youth Theatre group to meet each week. We often have to rehearse in the gallery and get disturbed by people walking through to get the cinema, but the new Hub means that this won’t happen anymore”.

The Learning and Participation Hub is the first of three stages of the project funded by the Biffa Award

The team said it is set to be completed by February 2023, bringing new opportunities for the community of South Tyneside and beyond to participate in the arts.

Rachel Maidment, Biffa Award grants manager, said: “Biffa Award is delighted to see this special project complete work on the Learning & Participation Hub.

"The transformation of this space will help fuel users imaginative flare and give them a sense of wellbeing.

"The wider project was awarded £390,784 through the Partnership Grants Scheme and we are extremely excited to see the rest of the project come to fruition, including the installation of retractable theatre seating and a new immersive and interactive zone to learn about theatre, which will inspire participation, creativity and interaction within the local community.”

Since 1997, Biffa Award has awarded grants totalling more than £186million to thousands of worthwhile community and environmental projects across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The programme administers money donated by Biffa Group Ltd through the Landfill Communities Fund.