Over the summer, there was a huge outcry in the north of England, as Tory peer Baron Howell of Guildford, father-in-law of Chancellor George Osborne, remarked that shale gas fracking should be restricted to the ‘desolate’ areas found in the North East.
Most people did not agree.
But if the north is so desolate, surely it must also be a cultural wasteland? Many seem to think so.
It’s true that somewhere like Middlesbrough will never have the cultural riches of a big city like London, but that doesn’t mean that Teesside has nothing to offer.
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
Since it opened in 2007, mima has hosted exhibitions featuring work by great artists including Picasso, Matisse, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst. It also holds regular events, such as gallery or craft workshops and behind the scenes tours.
Since August, mima has hosted a series of live music events in and around the building, featuring a range of local and international artists. The gigs have been incredibly intimate and have proved to be a quirky yet innovative way to use the space. It’s the last one in the season next weekend, so check it out if you can.
You can also read my review of mimaLive #1.
Visitors to Middlesbrough arriving at the town’s train station might be surprised to discover that the tunnel between the two platforms has been transformed into an art gallery showcasing work from fresh and innovative artists, including Middlesbrough author Richard Milward.
The Tunnel Gallery aims to use the town’s everyday spaces to bring art to the people.
Just up the road from Middlesbrough, ARC is Stockton’s Arts Centre, a space for quirky theatre performances, indie films, drama groups and socialising. It also offers a comprehensive programme of development for local artists, focusing on those specialising in drama, dance and spoken word.
Talk About Local
This year’s Talk About Local Unconference was held in Middlesbrough and saw hyper-local bloggers and journalists from around the country come together to talk about their passion for promoting their towns and cities.
The focus of this year’s event was on arts and culture, so it’s only natural that a further series of workshops were developed to take place on Teesside, focusing on how to use social and digital media to share news of what’s happening in the local community. For more information, check out the Talk About Local website or follow the #noticeTees hashtag on Twitter.
It was recently announced that Middlesbrough will be getting its own regional TV channel, thanks to Made Television who were awarded a licence by Ofcom. They’ll be working with the Evening Gazette, our local newspaper, to produce programmes on local news, culture, arts, entertainment, sport and more.
Both the Dorman Museum and the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum are run by the local council and feature exhibits detailing various aspects of Middlesbrough’s history and heritage. Plus you can find all kinds of other temporary exhibitions, from the ancient Egyptians to instruments of medieval torture.
Don’t forget Ormesby Hall, which is run by the National Trust. This Georgian mansion features beautiful gardens and regularly hosts events such as its popular 70s nights.
Of course, this is just a brief overview of some of the cultural venues that can be found in Middlesbrough. I haven’t mentioned our theatre, music venues, other galleries, workshops, festivals, events or parks.
You can find out about some of them in my So I’m a Smoggie series, but it’s surprising how many smaller events and activities take place all the time without receiving much publicity. Maybe we can change that, hmm?