Jack Drum Arts was founded in 1986 by Julie Ward and Paddy Burton. Initially run as a partnership for 10 years the organisation became a registered co-operative in 1996 when new directors Jill Cole and Simon Pell joined the company followed by Helen Ward in 2001. For many years we operated out of a farmhouse in Teesdale, then hired office space at Enterprise House in Barnard Castle. In 2006 with the departure of Jill Cole and Simon Pell as company directors we decided to focus our office base in Crook and moved back into our homes whilst looking for suitable and affordable premises in the Wear Valley area of the County.

In 2009 we were invited to be the anchor tenant of a new community centre in the old St Cuthbert’s Primary School in the market town of Crook. We moved into this beautifully refurbished building in April 2009 taking over a large office and workshop space as well as storage units for our large collection of costumes, props and musical instruments and have been here ever since. 2014 brought about new changes in the company with Julie Ward, one of our founding directors becoming elected as an MEP for the North West of England, and Paddy Burton resigning to follow a new career direction in Europe. We recruited 2 new directors: Jack Burton (freelance musician and actor) and Michele Armstrong (Head of Volunteering at Auckland Castle Trust). They now work alongside Helen Ward, continuing to develop the work of the company, for what we hope will be many more years to come.

Over the past 3 decades, the company has worked with 1000’s of people. Our participants are from all walks of life and all ages and abilities from across County Durham and the North East, as well as nationally and internationally as part of our engagement with programmes such as the European-funded Youth in Action projects and other initiatives. Our youth arts programme creates at least one new high profile work each year, supported by visiting artists working in collaboration with our team. In the past this work has been showcased at festivals such as the Hexham Gathering run by Folkworks, Contacting the World, the bi-annual youth theatre project curated by Contact Theatre in Manchester as well as Performing the World in New York and various youth media film festivals.

Adults involved with our programmes have the opportunity to share and celebrate their engagement in high quality artistic work through annual exhibitions and through performances and readings etc. Examples include a community choir comprised of people with poor mental health singing in front of thousands of people at The Ashes in Durham County Cricket ground, an event which also featured on national television.

Our work as creative producers has grown exponentially over the past few years, seeing an increasing number of visiting artists and arts organisations come and work alongside us to demonstrate their practice or share their approach to creativity and the making of work. These have included fine artists such as the Oko Media Arts Collective who ran their award-winning Unravel project in our centre, exposing new audiences to experimental fine art practice using film or the hosting of an internatonal residency with musicians from Nação Maracatu Porto Rico based in Recife, North East Brazil.

In complete contrast we have also developed relationships with some of the region's finest proponents of traditional folk art including The Unthanks who worked with our freelance musicians to embed the early stages of a youth music/theatre project that also created the conditions for the emergence of a new professional performance collective. We have also developed very strong relationships with musicians and artists such as Hannabiell Sanders of Ladies of Midnight Blue, The Baghdaddies, On Board Arts and Neighbourhood Watch Stilts International.

Jack Drum Arts

E: info@jackdrum.co.uk
T: 44 (0) 1388 765002

St Cuthbert’s Centre
Church Hill, Crook,
County Durham,
DL15 9DN

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