Teesside music charity, Tees Music Alliance has been successful in attracting £37,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as part of a year- long project celebrating the organisation’s history and that of an iconic local venue.

During 2016, Tees Music Alliance celebrated 30 years since their formation.  It was also 250 years since the charity’s main premises - The Georgian Theatre, Stockton-on-Tees - was built.  Furthermore in 2016, works began on a £1.4M refurbishment of the venue.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the funding has been awarded to enable a project which will engage people with both the 250 year history of the Georgian Theatre building, charting its life through numerous uses up to the present day, and the 30 year history of the Tees Music Alliance.

The project will promote a series of public facing events; asking local people to share their memories of the theatre - and researching the theatre's previous "lives"... from its origins as a theatre when it was built in 1766; to it becoming a base for the local Salvation Army base; a sweet factory during the early 20th century; near dereliction in the 1960s; a community centre in the 1980s – and right through to its current use as one of the region’s best known live music venues, operating since 1993.

TMA Chief Executive, Paul Burns, explained the idea behind the project;

Our refurbishment has been planned for a few years now and as part of the preparation work for the works we began to re-organise boxes and boxes of items that we’d collected over the years.

It hit home that we’d captured lots of moments in peoples’ lives and that instead of storing things away; we should be looking to preserve and display as much as we could.  Thinking further, we thought that there must be lots of people who might have their own stories that they can share with us – maybe they’ve seen a particular band here or performed here themselves.” 

TMA has a large resource of images and documents which they want to preserve and interpret for future users of their facilities... including photos, press cuttings, CDs, Videos and other interesting artefacts.

The current refurbishment process will also be documented for posterity; detailing the work as it unfolded and recalling what the venue used to look like.

Paul continues;

This an exciting time for TMA; with our newly refurbished building re-opening soon.  This investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund is a real boost to our first year of activity and will enable some really interesting additions to our programme.  We’re grateful that HLF have shown their interest in our work by supporting this project.

At the end of the project there will be enough material to create a digital exhibition within The Georgian Theatre - documenting key moments in the building's and TMA's history - which will be open to public viewing.

The whole archive will also be preserved digitally; so that it can eventually be put online - as well as creating visual exhibitions for screening around the newly refurbished building.

The project will employ the services of heritage and digital experts supporting TMA staff and helping to preserve their archive - alongside a programme of public events including a sweet making workshop to reflect the previous use of the theatre – there will also be opportunities for volunteering; where people might be interested in finding our more about the theatre, how it operates and helping TMA with aspects of the heritage work.

Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North East, said:

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re pleased to support the Tees Music Alliance as it continues to celebrate milestone anniversaries of its own formation and of the historic building it calls home.

“This project will delve into archives and people’s memories to ensure its history remains an integral part of its exciting future.”


About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

HLF invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. 

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The Georgian Theatre, Stockton-on-Tees

Green Dragon Yard, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 1AT