Borderlands project secures Arts Council England £2m backing for Tees programme

mima, Middlesbrough Collection exhibition opening

A community-focused arts programme has won £2m funding that will see local and international artists working across some of the most disadvantaged areas of Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland.

A consortium of partners led by mima and supported by Tees Valley Combined Authority, Teesside University and the local authorities of Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland loca has been successful in applying for support from Arts Council England for the arts programme.

The project, called Borderlands, will be delivered by a number of partner Tees Valley organisations including Teesside University-run Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), MFC Foundation, North Star Housing, Tees Valley Nature Partnership and Tees Valley Education.

The successful bid for the Borderlands project will see a major programme of creative growth with a focus in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, in the wards of Brambles and Thorntree, North Ormesby, Grangetown and South Bank. Working with strong community hubs and creative organisations, the programme will be resident-led and will work at large and small scales, with local and international artists with an aim to deliver over 200,000 new opportunities for creative engagement over the next four years.

Mima director Laura Sillars said: “Borderlands has been designed and developed by a crack team of artists, producers and community members committed to art and culture, being part of what changes people’s lives and the environment.

“The large-scale organisations such as the local and combined authorities and Teesside University have swept behind us with their resource and convening power to support us to be successful. It feels like being part of something special – a moment for positive change.

“Thanks go to Middlesbrough Council, Redcar and Cleveland Council, Tees Valley Combined Authority and all our community partners in the four wards, for their help and support with the bid process.

“And, to the consortium group, professional arts organisations and the extraordinary people doing the most extraordinary things within our communities.

“Borderlands will make a significant difference to people in our communities; supporting them to build on their resilience and creativity to engage with and shaping their own arts and culture provision which will become part of life.

“This project is a call to action for communities all across the UK to have access to the very best of art and culture. MIMA has committed to being both international and hyper-local in its approach. We will work with our communities to generate new opportunities which connect to stories, people and places that have relevance and resonance here and now.”

The Arts Council England funding in support of the Creative People and Places initiative was open to organisations across the country to apply.

Creative People and Places is the Arts Council’s National Lottery-funded investment in engaging new audiences

Linda Tuttiett, head of culture and tourism at Tees Valley Combined Authority, said: “A locally rooted Creative People and Places programme is a real opportunity for the whole region to learn, share and strengthen our collective approaches to cultural development and cultural equality, whilst enabling a meaningful programme devised in partnership with the communities and supported by the consortia who bring a breadth of skills, knowledge, expertise and creativity.

“We recognise that there are members of the communities here who struggle to get through the day. The statistics say one thing, but the people tell a different story, resilience and unity also characterise these places.

“The award will see the development of confident, creative places working from the grass roots up with full community involvement,” adds Jan Topham, Community Development Officer – South Bank & Grangetown Wards.

Professor Jane Turner OBE, pro vice-chancellor for enterprise and business engagement at Teesside University, said: “Teesside University is extremely committed to the work it does within the communities we serve and we are delighted to collaborate in this exciting and important project which will enrich the lives of so many people in the area.

“Art and culture play a significant role in helping to shape the community and I am confident that the Borderlands Project will be a huge success and have a positive impact on the people of our region.”