Happy 30th Birthday TVA

Tees Valley Arts was incorporated as a company on 5th August 1982. For our Autumn Newsletter I managed to track down some names from the past (and present) who have kindly given us their birthday greetings.

Simon Smith, Communications Officer

Happy birthday to Tees Valley Arts and its wonderful and dedicated team. 30 years of reaching out, engaging, and improving the life chances of people in the Tees Valley;

In an increasingly challenging environment Tees Valley Arts continue to deliver creative entrepreneurship and high quality artistic solutions to Teessiders where traditional methods of engagement or support are not working. This takes considerable passion, skill and dedication from Rowena and her team and for which I am very proud.

Richard Anderson
Board Member since 2010 and current Chair of Tees Valley Arts
Head of Risk and Compliance, Gentoo Genie Limited

Over the last 30 years Tees Valley Arts have played a major role in the development of the sub region’s artistic communities, offering professional training and development opportunities to local artists, inspiring young people in both formal and informal educational settings, often giving excluded people valuable platforms to voice their concerns and express their experiences around contemporary social issues, as well as playing a vital role in the development of public art across Teesside. Tees Valley Arts have certainly played an important role in my own creative development and I am grateful for their continued support.

Bob Beagrie
Writer, community artist, senior lecturer and co-director of Ek Zuban Literature Development
Cleveland Arts Literature Development Worker 1998-2003

Many happy returns TVA or Cleveland Arts as you once were. 30th years is an impressive age for an arts organisation but you have an impressive track record as well and gave me good memories. From Eric Bainbridge’s cast iron balls (!) in Hartlepool to Simon Patterson’s Kites at the Captain Cook Museum and outlandish proposals by Vito Acconci for Stockton Riverside, the organisation always aimed to push the boundaries and bring world renowned talent to the area. Not forgetting Irvine Welsh reading extracts from the yet to be published Acid House Tales to four of us in a back street pub in Middlesbrough or Glenn Humphrey’s shaking hands with Tony Blair as he put the finishing touches to a sculpture at a housing estate (Glenn that is, not Tony), you just couldn’t make it up! Anyway loads of memories, great people and ..still going strong, nice one!

John Cairns, Relationship Manager Digital and Creative Economy, Arts Council England East Midlands; Public Arts Officer, Cleveland Arts 1993-1998

Sometimes when you are fighting hard for something you passionately believe in you can temporarily lose sight of what it’s all for, but then you see the smiling faces of children when they have a sense of achievement, or you hear them talking about their involvement, their expression of new feelings and skills, and you realise how vital the work of Tees Valley Arts is. The real achievement is that similar things brought about by TVA are happening in all the corners of the Tees Valley; Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar, and Stockton.

How can you begin to measure the real influence on generations of people over the last 30 years in promoting; inclusion, involvement, and achievement. Visit Saltholme Nature Reserve surrounded by smoking Castles of Industry, and see how art through the Green TV Project has become integral to promoting and involving children in that environment.

All the TVA projects reinforce why after 30 years it is essential that Tees Valley Arts continues to be a vital part of the areas cultural landscape, especially during the current climate of cut backs!

Art, culture, and sport are the perfect routes to a better life for all.

Tony Campbell
Director, Creative Glass
Board Member since 2002 (Chair 2005 – 2012 )

I am delighted to be able to send my congratulations and very best wishes to Tees Valley Arts on its 30th anniversary. As the first Director of its predecessor, Cleveland Arts, I have so many happy memories of those early days as the newly formed arts agency promoted the visual and performing arts and supported community and ethnic arts across the county. Music and drama were my particular passions and the successful Cleveland Music Festivals, library and art gallery concerts, which included participation by many distinguished national and international artists performing with Cleveland performers, remain with me as joyful memories of my time in the county. It was Cleveland Arts’s organisation of Cleveland Youth Opera’s first full scale opera in 1986 which led me to found British Youth Opera. now a major training company for leading young singers many of whom have gone on to star in the world’s finest opera houses. It celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. I have watched with great interest and pleasure the influence and impact which Tees Valley Arts has had on its area and I am honoured to have been associated with its predecessor. I wish Tees Valley Arts every possible continued success in the future.”

Denis Coe
(Director of Cleveland Arts 1983-1989)

Congratulations to Tees Valley Arts on your 30th birthday.

It is over 20 years since I was privileged to serve the then Cleveland Arts as the Vice chair thus it is a great delight that I am able to celebrate 30 years of its continuity through Tees Valley Arts.

Throughout its 30 years existence it has been well served by all who have been associated with it. It has made a valuable contribution to the Arts within Teesside and has demonstrated through a genuine coming together of the community what can be done by staying focused.

Take heart from the success of 30 years for a continuing service to the Arts in the Tees Valley

Brian. B. Coldwell OBE
Chair Cleveland College of Art and Design
(Cleveland Arts Board Member and Vice Chair 1987 – 2000)

To have survived for thirty years is an impressive enough achievement for any arts organisation. Many bigger, glitzier and better-funded organisations have disappeared in this time. But when you consider the important work that Cleveland Arts/Tees Valley Arts has done to bring together professional and amateur artists, audiences and communities in an area like Teesside, the record is all the more remarkable. I wish TVA all the best for the next thirty years.

Andy Croft, writer
(Board Member 1990 – 1998)

Congratulations to Tees Valley Arts on its 30th birthday and on the many creative experiences and events it has inspired during that time.

I joined Tees Valley Arts to work on the Articulate Project in 2000, progressed to Programme Manager for Social Inclusion in 2001, where we were able to build on a strong record of delivering inclusive and empowering projects with people with a disability. During my time as Director, 2003 to 2005, staff and trustees worked together to re-brand the organisation, changing the name from Cleveland Arts to Tees Valley Arts to better reflect and signal the organisations positioning. I am delighted that Tees Valley Arts is still going strong and wish you all the very best for the future.

Lesley Featherstone
Tees Valley Arts (2000 – 2005) and now Director of Creativity Works www.creativityworksforeveryone.co.uk

Congratulations Tees Valley Arts on your 30th birthday. I can only imagine that these are not the easiest times for a voluntary organisation that works so discretely to facilitate such positive and valuable arts activity. I hope that the unique opportunity that TVA provides for the area, for attracting funding and enabling collaboration and development through arts projects continues to be recognised. Much of TVA’s good work has been within communities, and so has a naturally lower profile than flagship centres, for example. I expect that this goes in cycles, I remember that (the then Cleveland Arts) had very little money at the time I was employed, but that we were soon able to attract huge amounts of funding and good will for some wonderful projects, through Health Action Zones, Neighbourhood Renewal and Youth Action programmes, aside from the work we did within schools and Public Art, as the government at the time sought to empower communities and redress inequalities at grass roots. It was an exciting time, and I certainly enjoyed a fantastic learning experience and made some great friends and associations during my time at TVA. So thanks for that!

Luke Harding
(Cleveland Arts Social Inclusion Programme Manager 1998 – 2001) (now Proprietor of The Waiting Room Vegetarian Restaurant in Eaglescliffe www.the-waiting-room.co.uk)

Happy 30th birthday, Tees Valley Arts! Congratulations, and thanks for all the fun and achievements!

For me, highlights were lots of firsts: the Women’s Comedy project; the first subregional Arts Council-funded Arts & Disability Agency; the first Disability Arts Festival; the Arts & Health Trust; the Literature Development programme (giving Mark Robinson his first job in the Arts!). And gaining lots of grants! What I loved was the freedom to be ingenious and to take risks, enabling more people to express themselves creatively, and to have a voice. Since then, I’ve been Principal Arts Officer in Stockton, and Study Support Manager for Middlesbrough council. Now I’m a freelance ghostwriter, as well as a life coach, NLP Trainer and Master Practitioner – still combining arts with helping people to be the best they can be!

Good luck in the future!

Linda Innes –
(Arts Equality Officer 1991-1998)

I would like to congratulate Cleveland Arts on their 30th Anniversary. During my employment with them as Senior Administrator I was privileged to see first hand the invaluable support and contribution they made to both local artists and the Community. For me the highlight was working with children seeing their faces and watching them develop and learn through art. Best Wishes for the future and to a further successful and creative 30 years.

Denise Kelly (formerly Gilgallon)
Senior Administrator 1989-1999 and now Campaigns Manager for Dogs Trust

It would not be a rash claim to say Cleveland Arts changed my life! The chance to establish the Public Arts Unit brought me to the Tees Valley for the first time, and I’m still here. Sharing my enthusiasm for sculpture and craft with architects and property developers was almost as good as being paid to make art. Whether combining jeweller Jenni Neal with blacksmith Peat Oberon for a Coulby Newham railing commission, or pairing farmer Lewis Staley with sculptor Richard Wentworth for the installation of his wonderful Teesdale Parish Boundary Markers, it was a joy. Cleveland Arts earned a positive reputation, and left a mark in every sense. I was thrilled to succeed Alastair Snow as Director and to carve out a place for the organisation through the local government change of ’96. I learnt a great deal from board members like Lesley Oates, Brian Coldwell, and Neil Etherington, and formed friendships that are strong today with colleagues like Simon Smith, Mark Robinson, and Andy Croft. Cities and towns need agencies like Tees Valley Arts to excite and challenge, to colonise new territory and create circumstances in which new ideas and new communities can take root. I wish TVA a happy 30th, with best wishes for the next 30.

Reuben Kench
(Cleveland Arts Public Arts Officer 1991-1993; Director 1993-1997 now Head of Culture and Leisure. Stockton on Tees Borough Council)

Happy birthday, TVA ! Thanks for all the countless community events you organised across Teesside that encouraged people of all backgrounds to get involved in art and by so doing, broke down barriers. Art for All!

Bob Kerr
(Board Member 1994-2009, Chair 2002-2005)

In the blink of an eye 30 years have flown by.
It is hard today to imagine what 1982 felt like then.
Distant voices, distant memories, distant dreams.
Over the course of the past three decades so many good and bad things have happened.
Most we could never have foreseen.
But some things are constant, such as the power of the arts to change our perceptions of the surrounding world for the greater good, to hold and bond communities together and to give a voice to many. Happy birthday Tees Valley Arts, long may you sing.

Roger Lewis
(Board Member 1982-1984)

(Roger Lewis was a founding Board Member of Cleveland Arts. He left the North East in 1984, and subsequently held the positions of Head of Music at Radio 1, a Managing Director of EMI Records, President of the Decca Record Company, Managing Director of Classic FM, and Managing Director of ITV Wales. He is currently the Group Chief Executive of the Welsh Rugby Union and Millennium Stadium.)

Thirty years old is a great age to be. It’s the age you stop being quite so worried about what other people think and become you’re own person. So TVA has embraced the challenges of independence and is going forward; doing what is right for the organisation and for the folk of the Tees Valley. I enjoyed three years as Director at TVA and made many friends and associates, many of which I still keep in touch with today. Memories that jump to mind would be the completion of E:volve the Science and Arts project funded through ERDF that forged partnerships between the arts, schools and science sectors and Gallery TS1 which grew from another great partnership with Middlesbrough Council. Both initiatives leave great legacies behind in the Tees Valley. Happy Birthday TVA!

Rosi Lister
(Director 2005-2008)

Very many congratulations on 30 years at Tees Valley Arts, and here’s to 30 years more! When I joined Cleveland Arts in 1983 the two staff were a performing arts and a visual arts officer. It was my first arts admin job, and arts development was a new way of working, so I learned by the seat of my pants! Highlights include bringing national sculptors, including David Mach, to the Cleveland Gallery for Sculpture: New Directions, a horse drawn tour by Horse and Bamboo Theatre which led to a later three month residency in Wolviston, and securing Urban Aid funding for an Ethnic Arts Worker at Cleveland Arts. I moved to Dorset in 1986 to work with Common Ground and subsequently was Dorset Arts Development Officer for 6 years. I have worked freelance since 1998 and live on Portland.

Joanna Morland
Visual Arts Officer, 1983-86

I would like to send my congratulations and good wishes to the staff, past and present, of Tees Valley Arts, for their hard work and important contribution in enhancing and encouraging the arts in the area over 3 decades. Their creativity and ideas have resulted in interesting experiences for a wide range of communities and individuals and I wish them success and the opportunity to grow and develop in the future.

Lesley Oates
(Board Member 1982-2004; Chair 1985-1999)

Happy 30th Birthday Tees Valley Arts! Having worked with TVA right from the beginning of my career as a freelance designer until the present day, I can honestly say that the organisation does a multitude of fantastic and inspiring things! The projects I have been involved in for the past 6 years have shown the passion that Tees Valley Arts has for creativity, learning and the arts sector on the whole. It reaches people far and wide in a positive and engaging way. What a lovely organisation to work for…and a lovely bunch of people to work with! Long may it continue! Three cheers for Tees Valley Arts on its thirtieth birthday!

Nicola Parkin, Artist

Tees Valley Arts holds a very special place for me, on my journey through the field of arts and engagement. The communities of Teesside and its local arts practitioners combine to create a unique platform from which to push the boundaries of what makes art relevant to all. As former Education Programme Manager, I valued the freedom to respond to the needs of participants, artists and community partners; this was reflected in our ground breaking work with North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) the vast chemical industries network based in Teesside. This partnership was encapsulated in the Evolve Programme which reached thousands of pupils and teachers. It united science and art through the laughter and creativity we discovered in cross curricular dance, drama and creative writing. We raised aspiration for all involved whilst embedding new skills in education nationally.

In my current role as Head of Learning at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, I recognise the value of my time with Tees Valley Arts and the experiences which continue to inform my work. My sincere thanks and good wishes for the future go to this exceptional arts organisation, long may you continue…

Janette Pratt
Education Programme Manager – Cleveland Arts/Tees Valley Arts 2003-2007

I worked for Cleveland Arts from 1993 to 1999, and it was a fantastic place to learn the skills of arts development: from the great team of people that worked there, from the board, from our partners and audiences, and from artists. The ground-breaking projects we made together still benefit people today. I still see public art we commissioned back then, from Stockton High Street to Berwick Hills and the cliffs at Saltburn. I see the legacy of the Equality Arts work in the way diversity is now embraced far more commonly. Mudfog Press, which I co-founded, and typeset the first booklets, still flourishes promoting local authors. Some of the writers I worked with as LDW (Literature Development Worker), like Bob Beagrie and Maureen Almond have rightly gone to establish national reputations. We created an arts education function that broke new ground in putting artists into schools, long before national thinking caught up. I always felt we were working on democratising the arts in Teesside, and I’m glad to see those efforts continuing today. Best wishes to everyone there – a luta continua!

Mark Robinson
Literature Development Worker 1993-1997; Director 1997-1999

I am delighted that Tees Valley Arts is celebrating its 30th anniversary and thank you for asking me to be a part of it. As Director of what was then known as Cleveland Arts at the turn of the Millennium, I have very fond memories of my time with the organisation. I was particularly proud of the work in Arts Equality and Literature and know that it made a great difference to the people we worked with. Our work in Public Art was outstanding, and I enjoyed hugely working alongside Judith Winter as she introduced brilliant artists to uncover the reality of Teesside, and engage with the people of the area. I was also enormously proud of our work with schools as they prepared to take their artistic contribution to the Millennium Dome as part of the invitation to spend a day at the Dome during the year 2000.

For me, the organisation plays a vital a unique role in connecting artists with people. My abiding memory is of poet Maureen Almond working with a group of women in Stockton, supporting them to use computers by inspiring them through poetry to share their thoughts, hopes and dreams. The project resulted in a published collection of powerful and moving poems, and women who had both gained a new voice, a new skill and new friends. I will never forget it. The inspiring power of art to change lives, in tiny ways, every day. What could we achieve if we really brought great art to everyone?

Since leaving the organisation, I have worked at the Arts Council both in the South East and at the Head office. I am now the national Director of Strategy, and I look back on my time at Cleveland Arts as a vitally important part of my career. I wish you all the best with your 30th, and hope the organisation continues to thrive for the next 30!

Richard Russell
(Director 1999-2000)

Cleveland Arts employed me as a Development Worker on the Articulate project in September 2000, and I loved the three years I spent in that role. The job enabled me to set up a number of projects producing high quality work with disabled people and gave me the opportunity to work with some fantastic artists and organisations, including Touchdown Dance and Mind the Gap Theatre Company. My work was never particularly subtle, I ran projects entitled Get a Life and of course, Shoot Your Mouth Off. I had many high points at tva, but probably my proudest moment was the premiere of SYMO’s short black comedy film Killer Cure, see it at www.symofilms.com .

Karen Sheader
Articulate Development Worker 2000-2003

Happy anniversary and to recall an arts development programme across Cleveland with local authorities in Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Langbaurgh and Stockton with Cleveland County Council, the Teesside Development Corporation and Northern Arts; not least by artist Kate Noakes at Middlesbrough Football Club; musician Mohammed Sarwar; Riverscape with artists Vivan Sundaram, Takashi Ikezawa, Hanna Luczak and Graham Crowley from India, Japan, Poland and the UK; Phoenix Dance Company; Graeae Theatre; Write Around; the Teesside Arts Awards; and to promote especially arts equality, literature development, visual art, art and design in the public realm. Every future success.

Alastair Snow
Director, Cleveland Arts 1989-93

Happy Birthday and huge congratulations to you and the team.

My role at that time was to support and encourage the regeneration of the Tees Valley, through raising the creative aspirations of policy makers and communities. I had an incredible experience and was able to continue the work of Reuben Kench and John Cairns. I was responsible for commissioning and managing a number of public art projects with James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough Football Club and with the Middlesbrough Town Centre Company. Professionally I learnt so much and I am very thankful for those early foundations.

Tees Valley Arts is proof that a small group of committed people can achieve really important things. You are a real inspiration as an organisation that works with socially engaged practice and supports emergent talent.

Since leaving the organisation I have had a career working as a curator both within and beyond the gallery context. Perhaps most well known for developing the fine art collection and inaugural exhibitions programme for mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) and leading on the international arts programme for Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA).

Judith Winter, Independent Arts Consultant & Curator, Winter Projects Ltd;
Deputy Director, Commissions, Cleveland Arts 1998-2001