Important community work to continue to grow at The Customs House

Published: 1st February 2021


Vital community work is set to continue and expand at The Customs House thanks to funding from The Garfield Weston Foundation.

We have been awarded funding through the Weston Culture Fund to grow community engagement, tackle mental health for children and young people in South Tyneside and allow the venue to become more accessible to audiences and performers.

Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer said: “After such an incredibly difficult year when the people of South Tyneside  have  given us so much positive support it is fantastic news that the Weston Culture Fund has given The Customs House the resource we need to reach out to our community to tackle some real concerns.

“As a result of this investment we will be a more diverse and responsive organisation operating within a more inclusive and accessible building ready to face the challenges of a post pandemic recovery.”

The Weston Culture Fund was announced today with the South Tyneside-based venue and charity granted £164,400.

The funding will create two new posts. A Community Engagement Officer will provide a link to underserved members of the community, while the Digital Project Co-Ordinator will expand the digital offer beyond lockdown, allowing wider audiences the opportunity to take part or be entertained.

The Customs House will tackle the growing concerns surrounding children and young people’s mental health during the pandemic with two projects working with the Local Cultural Education Partnership. A piece of children’s theatre, written by Danielle Burn, will be produced to help under sevens deal with their emotions and the fund will also support the development of a choir for children and young people.

The grant will help increase the venue’s accessibility for both visitors and performers with the installation of a new lift to the back-stage area and audio description equipment. New equipment and facilities, including sound-proofing, cinema projector and digital equipment, will also see the venue make better use of facilities, enabling them to serve more of the community.

Thank you

Mr Spencer added: “Serving our community is what we are here to do and we are delighted that we are able to do even more with the help of this fund. A huge thank you to the Garfield Weston Foundation for making this possible.”

The Garfield Weston Foundation’s Director, Philippa Charles, says: “Our cultural sector is at the heart of our local communities providing not only entertainment but education and inspiration for many. Our Trustees were impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit shown across the arts in response to Covid-19 and it was a privilege to hear what organisations had been doing to not only survive but also to reinvent the way they reach audiences. What really stood out was the level of collaboration and support they had for each other and the determination to keep going, despite the increasingly difficult situation.

“We all want and need our cultural sector to thrive and, if anything, our time away from the arts has shown just how important they are to us – bringing much needed pleasure and enrichment to our lives. Arts organisations are desperate to re-open and get back to what they do best and we hope that this new funding will help many of them do exactly that.”