Partnership between ARC and The Northern School of Art to create a cultural powerhouse for the Tees Valley

Two leading north east cultural institutions have agreed a partnership that will provide a further boost to the Tees Valley’s cultural and drama scene and strengthen the development of the area’s creative workforce.

The region’s only specialist arts and design school, The Northern School of Art, has signed an agreement with ARC, the thriving Stockton-on-Tees-based arts centre, which is the first step in a range of cultural initiatives that will support the ongoing regeneration of the area through high quality arts, drama and culture.

As well as actively developing opportunities for cultural activity, the partnership will provide the professional training to support local acting students to stay in the region and forge links with the stage and screen industry after graduation.

It also aims to encourage acting students from beyond the region into the area to play a part in the cultural revival of the Tees Valley.

For the past eighteen months, students from the School’s Acting degree course have worked closely with ARC, benefitting from multiple workshops, industry talks and performance opportunities.

The Northern School of Art’s Programme Leader for Acting, Jonny Bussell, said that the formal partnership between the institutions will strengthen the collaboration further.

“Everyone at ARC has been so supportive and welcoming to our students, making them feel at home, and it has added so much to the degree level study to the students’ professional understanding of the acting industry.

“The partnership with ARC continues to grow, with so many ideas for opportunities to work together.  I’m looking forward to bringing future students to ARC to see our alumni’s work.”

ARC’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director, Annabel Turpin, said:

“We are really excited about formalising our partnership with The Northern School of Art and the future work and opportunities that we will be creating together.

“A core part of ARC’s work is to support local people to pursue creative careers. This is a wonderful chance to support and develop young artists to go on to create excellent work for our audiences to enjoy.”

The School’s second year Acting students are also enthusiastic about the benefits of the partnership.Grace Richards, from Litchfield near Birmingham, said:

“Being able to use ARC’s professional facilities has allowed me to step up and progress in a more controlled way. It has really helped to bridge the gap.”

Alastair McKie, from Hull, also said that being given access to the facilities was a big help adding,

“I never had the opportunity to perform in a professional venue before and ARC allowed me to do this which took a lot of pressure off. This is really helpful for my future career in acting.”

Bailey Mallon-Ward from the Isle of Man said: “It’s been a really big opportunity to make connections that will be really useful after we graduate”, whilst Teessider Niamh Nelson said that “because our faces are known at ARC, if I need any help I know I can always ask.”

Dominic Hehir from County Durham said that “having the opportunity to perform and being given the trust of a professional venue has really boosted us.”

All of the students said that it was a huge advantage being able to see so many of ARC’s productions, thanks to the venue’s pioneering Pay What You Decide ticket model.

Jonny Bussell added: “It has meant that our students have seen some fantastic and varied shows over the last 18 months, which has helped to inspire them in their own work without finance being a barrier to students from less well-off backgrounds.”

Isaac Bradley, from Scarborough agreed and said that being able to see so many shows had given him “lots of ideas for my future career.”

Pam Ringwood, from Hartlepool, added that having the decision about how much to pay for a show “changes the concept of how you view it and makes you really think about how you would create your own show.”

The School’s Acting students are about to start work on a performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, which will take place in Arc’s main theatre in May. 

The Acting degree course is one of a wide range of specialist creative courses offered by The Northern School of Art. Open Days where staff and students are on hand to give first-hand information about all of the degree and masters’ level courses available are held at the School’s university-level campus in Hartlepool throughout the year. Full details are available at