Additional support for the Customs House

Published: 23 March 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

The Customs House in South Shields has received new support in cash and kind for work with young people and for general audiences.

The Takeover youth arts festival, a week-long festival in the May half-term holiday that is produced by, with and for young people to develop and showcase their leadership skills and which features music performances, theatre shows, visual art exhibitions and workshops, has been given a grant of £31,000 from the Scottish Power Foundation. It is one of 25 organisations to share in £1.25m in the foundation’s annual awards.

The Takeover is led by the Takeover Team, a group of 14- to 25-year-olds who are recruited from diverse backgrounds and have varying leadership and arts experiences, who handle all the festival planning, marketing, delivery and the evaluation its activities.

“For many young people, there are few clear and visible pathways into the arts as a professional career route,” said Izzy Finch, Learning and Participation Officer at The Customs House. “Takeover is one of the only opportunities young people south of the Tyne will encounter to be trusted and empowered to take over arts programming, take risks and work alongside professional mentors to deliver arts provision developed by young people for young people.”

The Takeover Team meet every Monday at The Customs House, between 4:30PM and 6:30PM, to plan the festival with Takeover Team co-ordinator Natasha Haws. Anyone aged between 11 and 25 who is interested in joining the Takeover Team, or would like to find out more, should e-mail Izzy Finch.

In another development Customs House audience members who are sensitive to noise will benefit from 20 ear defenders donated by Community Corner, which raises funds for community organisations in South Tyneside through its charity shops in Jarrow. They protect the wearer from extreme noises and are available to anyone attending performances at The Customs House for a £5 refundable deposit.

Community Corner manager Cheryl McDonald said, “Community Corner has always supported The Customs House and it was a pleasure to be able to help.

“Hopefully, this donation will help adults and children to experience and enjoy shows that they might have struggled with before the ear defenders were available.”

Community Corner has shops in the Viking Centre, in Jarrow town centre and Edinburgh Road on the town’s Scotch Estate.

“It is no surprise that Community Corner were Pride of the North East champions,” said Ray Spencer, Executive Director of The Customs House, “as they consistently go the extra mile to support a whole host of community projects across South Tyneside.

“We are very grateful that, once again, they have chosen to support The Customs House with this brilliant donation of 20 ear defenders, which will be made available to both children and adults who need them.”