As Stockton Borough Council continue with their ambitious high street overhaul, a fresh vision for what it is to become is emerging through the new trees and bus stops, fresh paving and demolished buildings.
But all the building work has not stopped us from ushering various artists and companies out into the town centre, weaving in and out of barricades and trenches to showcase their work to the Stockton masses.
Daniel Bye invited passing shoppers for a cup of tea and a biscuit in exchange for a tale of the town while researching for his show, Story Hunt, and Leeds-based Invisible Flock occupied a disused shop for a month, turning it into a 3D art installation made up of Stockton locals happy memories in Bring The Happy.
Mr and Mrs Chickweed explored the town centre in their Turnip Caravan in search of Africa, following their mesmerising Easter show performance, The Enormous Turnip, and C-12 Dance Theatre treated library dwellers to snippets of their show, Shhh! which was later performed on ARC’s Theatre Stage.
Star of Cold Feet, Jon Thompson surprised Jason Cook fans when he joined the comedian on stage for Jason Cook and Friends, and Harrigan audiences were joined by the films lead actor Stephen Tompkinson and Cinematographer, James McAleer for a post-film Q&A.
The building teemed with ale aficionados, music fans and dancers, practitioners and young people alike with the return of annual festivities Ale & Arty, Stockton Calling and PULSE, all of which will be making a welcome return in 2014. Keeping in the festival spirit ARC went to Edinburgh with no less than three shows produced, Daniel Bye’s How To Occupy and Oil Rig and The Price of Everything, and Tom Walton’s When We Embraced.
And what’s planned for 2014? We don’t want to give too much away, but so far we can promise aerial drama for the NHS, a Big Red Bath, a Polar Bear as a performance poet, a comedian as a Penguin, and an awful lot of balloons and kind words.
We’ll see you in 2014.