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Eye-catching art for town centre after funding boost

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Several new artists' commissions are coming to Middlesbrough thanks to a bumper Arts Council funding boost.

The installations will appear in two phases with the majority positioned in the town centre.

The project was initiated by Creative Factory and delivered by Navigator North, a Tees Valley-based artist-led organisation.

Middlesbrough Council has received over £500,000 Arts Council funding in the past year.

A proportion of the funding has been allocated towards artist commissions, which focus on a range of subjects including Middlesbrough landmarks, history and culture.

Local reference points including the famous Romer Parrish toy shop and the social history of Club Bongo International feature.

Six pieces are due to be launched from the end of July with a further five due in late September.

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: "It's great to see Arts Council funding being spent in our town.

"This project also puts money in the pockets of local and national artists and in the process supports Middlesbrough's economy.

"As Covid restrictions come to an end, we're trying all sorts of different ways to entice people into town for the benefit of local businesses.

"We're an energetic and creative town and I know these pieces will spark lots of debate."

Among the first pieces to be installed will be ‘Boro Through Time' by North East artist Sofia Barton. Five matchbox designs depicting aspects of the town's culture and history will go up on the A66 viaduct wall close to the railway station.

And Middlesbrough's Emma Bennett will see her interpretations of Broadcasting House and the Cleveland Centre displayed.

Later in the series, a giant heart will be illuminated from a prominent town centre building and the iconic phone boxes at the town hall will be activated with light, colour and sound.

Middlesbrough Council, which has committed £25,000 of funding ringfenced for culture to the project, hopes the new commissions will complement the public poetry series in the town.

Deputy Mayor Mieka Smiles, who is also Executive Member for Culture and Communities, said: "We've got an eye-catching and thought-provoking series of works which will be intriguing to people of all ages.

"I'm sure we'll be seeing lots of snaps of the projects on Instagram over the summer.

"Art is good for people's mental health and these pieces will be another opportunity for people to explore the town on foot.

"I'm looking forward to seeing them all in the flesh."

Other Arts Council England funding is being spent on outdoor shows, activities to inspire children and young people and helping venues operate in a Covid-secure fashion.

  

Pictured: Boro Through Time by artist Sofia Barton

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