Allison McKay (Centre) and The Forum Music Centre team
Allison McKay (Centre) and The Forum Music Centre team
Jamie Hardesty

Darlington entertainment venue boosted by Lottery funding

The New Year promises to be an exciting time for the Forum Music Centre, thanks to a National Lottery grant.

The entertainment venue on Borough Road, Darlington, has received £9,990 from the National Lottery’s Big Lottery Fund to upgrade the band rehearsal space and community rooms - and a number of local firms have pitched in too.

Forum Managing Director, Allison McKay, said: “As well as being band rehearsal rooms, our spaces are busy during the daytime for various training courses for the unemployed and community group meetings, leading them to look very tired.

“The funding from the National Lottery and the fantastic support from our community and local companies means we can spend money on improving our facilities for the people who use them. This will include an equipment upgrade, which will really improve the rehearsing experience for our visiting musicians.

“We’d also like to say a massive thank you to Glenwoods Paint, Franks Factory Flooring and Absolute Floor Restore, who have stepped in to help with the makeover!”

Recognising the positive impact of the venue that works as an independent, not for profit social enterprise, R&D Tax Consultant, Ron Raison and Darlington Building Society have recently pledged their support.

This has enabled The Forum to purchase new equipment for the recording studio and rehearsal rooms, including a Sontronics microphone - the same model used by Adele.

Colin Fyfe, Chief Executive of Darlington Building Society said: “We are delighted to be supporting The Forum in making a real difference to the community.

“There are some exciting developments for the Centre in the New Year, and we are pleased to be able to play a part in developing the fantastic facilities for the good of the local people. Our contribution comes from our pledge to give 5 per cent of our net profits after tax to our community.”

The positive improvements will continue on from the refurbishment for the Centre, with the launch of a six month programme, the ‘Song Club Sessions’, aimed at 14 to 18 year-olds who are interested in developing song writing and performance skills.

The weekly club will be aimed at young people from Darlington secondary schools and colleges, with the pilot being funded by Darlington Education Trust.

Visitors are invited to get a taste of the upgraded rooms and the Song Club Sessions on Sunday February 4th, when The Forum will host an open day.

The date also coincides with Independent Venues Week, a national initiative supported by the BBC to music venues across the country. To celebrate, the venue will also host a special evening performance on February 4th from North East band, The Jar Family.

Allison Mckay added: “We’re so grateful to those that have supported us over the years, who have enabled this funding to happen. We’re so excited to start bringing more opportunities to the community, like the Song Club Sessions.

“To top it all off, I have just been awarded a place on the School for Social Entrepreneurs and Power to Change 2018 leadership programme, which will bring in additional funding to our fantastic venue. We can’t wait to see all the exciting changes the New Year brings.”

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