Today Darlington Borough Council announced it’s intention to close Darlington Arts Centre, the home of Darlington Media Group for 30 years. The buildings are to be sold to a developer, who is likely to want to demolish them and exploit the high value West End residential land. However, as part of the West End Conservation Area, this may prove difficult. The Arts Centre will continue in operation until July 2012, when it will close for good.
In an email to users the council said:
Recent information suggests that there is serious interest from companies who would buy the Arts Centre building..All the models for continuing with the existing Arts Centre building still required subsidy at a level the Council could not afford and work to the building for which no funding source had been identified, and also had other unsolved practical problems.
However, the council plans to reinvest any proceeds from the sale in a new arts hub:
There is ..an opportunity to create a new arts hub in the town centre, more accessible to all sections of the community than the existing Arts Centre, broadening participation in the arts, with lower operating costs and so a more sustainable long-term future.
Meanwhile, DMG, along with a number of other arts organisations, will need to find a new home in the town. The 6th Form College, a major user of the site, is said to be developing new facilities on it’s own land to replace space rented from the arts centre. But others like the Open Arts Studio and DMG itself, will need to find an alternative venue until any new arts venue has been built.