The post I wrote in November about the plans to close or dispose of the Civic Theatre and Arts Centre in Darlington was one of the most read last year. It also received some interesting comments (and emails) raising issues around the extent to which the institutions had been fully engaged in community and amateur activity, the status of professional and voluntary arts activity, and how best to lobby to save and develop the arts in Darlington.
There was good news from Darlington, reported in the Northern Echo here. Or at least potentially good news: both venues have been given what's described as a 'stay of execution' so that more work can be done on keeping them open or finding new operators. This is good news, although I am sure there are caveats not in the headlines (what's the impact on programming, for instance?) and lots of knotty work going on behind the scenes. Good luck - and well done so far - to everyone involved.
It is a promising sign that foolhardy intentions such as the Council's can sometimes be changed by concerted effort by a spread of people - from Arts Council to arts organisations to local people such as Darlington For Culture who've come together in classic style. Immediate crisis averted, however, there is still a need for pressure to create a long-term future for some key local assets.