If ARC was a stick of rock it would quite possibly have the name Mike McGrother running through it. Eaglescliffe born Mike is undoubtedly the longest lasting ‘resident’ in the building as he has been part of its life since the opening in 1998. From ‘standing in front of a wet, newly painted wall’ on the building’s original opening night to his secondment from Stockton Riverside College to help its relaunch as a space for education and community activity to his now legendary Wildcats of Kilkenny Christmas shows (over two decades and counting…), Mike has always had ARC in his heart and soul. He occupies an ‘office’ / music space in the building and can frequently be seen falling up and down the stairs in the building.

Mike is as close to being part of the furniture and fabric of ARC as one could imagine. His Wildcats Christmas shows have been added to with performances involving hundreds of performers from the Tees Valley and beyond… from his Pub Operas: Of Rogues and Of Honest Men / Raise a Glass to his Archetype collaborations with fellow Associate Artist Scott Turnbull to bar sessions; the inception of Matty’s Bistro with chef Matty Brown and regular pop up residencies involving the likes of his Infant Hercules choir for men, Mike’s energy and smile are constant in ARC’s day to day and night to night life.

Mike has recently been developing Blind Tiger – a programme of activity that, with ARC’s help and expertise, reimagines the roles of social clubs, pubs and village halls as hubs for creative and community connection. Mike’s artistic work is about story, song and sociability and he is renowned as an artist who can stimulate and co-create with the masses – empowering people to reflect upon and reawaken the spirit of community.

Mike has performed across the world – from New York to Newtown and Beijing to Billingham. But his heart remains embedded in his beloved Stockton-on-Tees and his adopted city – Kilkenny – the home of the man who he maintains ‘dragged me kicking and screaming onto the stage – consequently changing / saving my life for ever’.

Mike loves his family.