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ARC was built in 1997, funded via the National Lottery, to replace existing arts facilities including the Dovecot Arts Centre and the Cannon cinema.

Designed by RHWL Arts Team, the state of the art building with its impressive glass frontage is one of the most eye-catching in the town, and won a Civic Trust Award in 2001. Constructed over five floors, the variety of shape, style, colour and layout between the performances spaces offers audiences a completely different experience in each one.

Artist Richard Wilson was commissioned to design an artwork integral to the building, Over Easy, which is motorised to provide a dynamic element to the building’s design.

It opened in 1998 but despite early success in terms of activity and audiences, struggled financially and closed in November 2001.

With the support of Stockton on Tees Borough Council and Arts Council England, as well as the efforts of many individuals, an independent trust was formed in 2002 and ARC was bought back from the administrators. It re-opened to the public in September 2003 and has gradually recovered from it's initial difficulties to become the thriving arts centre it is today.