Discovering Teessides Cultural Scene

Teesside has creativity and culture coming out of its ears. But it seems only a few people know about it. Just like many other great things happening in the region, it is hidden, underground and away from the main-stream. This is probably one of its greatest strengths but also its biggest weakness. The sector has this gritty grassroots edginess, a non-commercialised character and a group of passionate people connected to it, giving their all and usually living off less than a minimum wage just for the love of it. But these people are also often on their own, unknown, undiscovered, disconnected and disillusioned. Our artists live down dark alleys, in empty office blocks, in the back of old pubs or the corner of some quirky coffee shop.

Our artists live down dark alleys, in empty office blocks, in the back of old pubs or the corner of some quirky coffee shop.

Yes some of them make it to the what’s on guide of the Georgian Theatre or walls of Arc but for the most part they are hidden.

When I started my Teesside regeneration journey, I went first to the churches and then I went to the artists. I remember walking into a conversation in The Georgian Theatre organised by some cultural activists from Leeds. I was pleasantly surprised to find around 60 artists and cultural practitioners there, all passionate about our region, about culture and about creativity. For years they had been finding ways to exist and create and perform amongst the backdrop of recession, austerity and apathy.

I was excited about this underground world I had discovered and wanted to find a way to shine a light on it and to show them that Stockton loved them. I started a blog and social media movement called Using on-line platforms, the idea was to celebrate the richness of our cultural and creative activities and get people talking about and engaging with it a little more. It began to take off; people started following us and liking and hashtagging us and a buzz began about our town. But in all honesty, there was too much to write about.

Currently there are so many activities happening that I could do with some help. Last month I discovered Keren & Bobbie, two Teesside Uni graduates students putting on art shows in unusual spaces. They’ve now opened up their own Gallery, ‘House of Blah Blah’ in Middlesbrough which launched its new exhibition last night. This month I met Laura from ‘Writers Block’ who supports writers to improve their craft and reconnected with Stephen Irving who is discovering new and emerging urban artists from around the region.


I know if the whole of Teesside gets behind our creatives, maybe we could really put these people and this place on the map. I’d like people to come with me on this journey of cultural discovery. Go visit an art gallery, book to see a play, buy some local art, take part in a poetry workshop. Use your facebook and twitter and instagram to big it up and maybe together we can make Teesside’s cultural light shine brighter.


  • For a small area, we produce so many creative and talented people.

  • You are so right. Teesside is a hugely creative area and yet we have such a low profile on the cultural landscape. This is changing. We opened the Palace Hub Gallery on the Redcar seafront 18 months ago and have, since then, welcomed over 38,000 visitors to see the work of over 130 local artists. This is community-based stuff: art by local people being viewed by (in the main) local people. This, however, will change as we all seek greater recognition from further afield.

  • I have thought the same for so long, echoed by the success of baler street. I know certain council big wigs have their eye on successes like that but your website seems a portal where I can get back on the front foot with the creative side of this amazing region

  • For sure! Are you a creative yourself? I am currently planing some gatherings for creatives & creative activists so please email me on to be kept in the loop. J

  • More of a beaten down creative, by the needs of life day to day. Mountain biking gets my creativity but photography was my outlet but dont get much time for that now either. I have bookmarked your website. It will be nice to get involved in more of the scene.

  • Hi Jessie, me and my pal have been putting Teesside artists on the pages of the Georgian’s what’s-on guide and the walls of ARC since 2010. Visit for the latest.
    Best wishes,

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