Into the Light - Empowering Communities, Igniting Creativity, Shaping Futures

Into the Light is a place-based creative collaboration that will drive long-lasting growth in County Durham. It will cultivate talent, widen access to creative education, enhance the skills of the cultural workforce, and break down barriers to working in the creative industries. The programme is a catalyst to level us up, mining our assets in new and imaginative ways to illuminate the ideas, history, communities and culture that shape our county. Just as our coalfields made Durham the cradle of the industrial revolution, Into the Light ignites ambitious county-wide collaboration that returns power to left behind communities, inspires children and young people, and develops the next generation of leaders as place-shapers in a global network. Over the next three years, Into the Light will support over 100 creative commissions, create nationally significant performance and theatre-making in the heart of our communities, invite visitors to explore our unique intersection of culture, science, and heritage, and deepen our collective understanding of our place in the world.

Into the Light is delivered by Durham County Council in partnership with Beamish Museum, The Bowes Museum, Durham University, Ensemble ’84, The Forge, No More Nowt, Northern Heartlands, Redhills CIO and TIN Arts. Culture Durham is a key stakeholder, representing the broader cultural sector.

Programme overview

The Programme consists of 8 projects across 3 interconnected themes.

Inspiring Children and young people
Building the cultural workforce
Connecting communities through culture
Future Skills
Cultivate Commissions
Durham Creative
Community Fellows
Durham Creative &
Cultural Skills Hub  
Place Labs
Ensemble ‘84
Light Years
The Forge logo

Future Skills

Led by The Forge
Contact: Tony Harrington

What skills do we need to prioritise today to better prepare our children and young people for the future? How will AI influence creativity within school environments? And how can creative learning enable everyone to achieve their full potential? Future Skills brings together teachers, artists, researchers, and children & young people to delve into these questions, experiment with concepts, pilot ideas, and exchange insights. Over three years, ten schools will engage in the Future Skills project, with regular knowledge-sharing events ensuring that all Durham schools can benefit from the project's outcomes and resources.


Led by TIN Arts
Contact: Martin Wilson

PULSE is a dance performance programme that creates, for the first time, a touring network for contemporary dance designed for children and young people in County Durham. Newly commissioned high-quality performances and creative events will tour into 120 Durham schools over 3 years, reaching over 3,000 children and young people. Led by TIN Arts and featuring disabled and non-disabled dance professionals, PULSE uses creative practice to explore scientific themes, investigating our relationship with space, light, and the sky through contemporary dance performances and workshops.

Tin Arts logo
Beamish Museum and Culture Durham logo

Durham Creative & Cultural Skills Hub

Led by Beamish Museum in collaboration with Culture Durham
Contact: Deborah Heron

Durham Creative and Cultural Skills Hub aims to boost the skills, capacity and resilience of Durham’s creative sector. Working through five dynamic strands - Apprenticeships, Paid Placements, Mentoring, new Level 3 qualifications, and Volunteering - the Hub will make connections and create opportunities across the Into the Light Programme as well as with creative and cultural organisations throughout the County. Working closely with Culture Durham, the Skills Hub will create pathways for communities with historically low levels of representation in the sector, building a more inclusive, diverse and skilled workforce for the future.

Durham Creative Community Fellows

Led by The Bowes Museum in collaboration with NAS ( and Derby Museums. 
Contact: Hannah Fox

Durham Creative Community Fellows brings together 40 artists, community organisers, and cultural entrepreneurs from across the county to be part of something bigger. Supported by a programme team based in the UK and USA, Fellows enter the programme with an arts and culture project and take it to the next level by forming a network of support and practice while learning new skills and frameworks. Throughout the programme, Fellows will test, adapt, and build significantly upon their work while gaining clarity, strengthening their leadership, and developing strategies to advance their goals as cultural trailblazers, creating positive change.

Logos of The Bowes Museum, National Art Strategies and Derby Museums
No more nowt and Northern Heartlands logo

Cultivate Commissions

Led by No More Nowt and Northern Heartlands
Contact: Jess Hunt or Katy Milne

Cultivate Commissions are designed to support creative practitioners to work with and alongside communities in County Durham to increase participation in cultural activity that has a positive impact on community identity and a pride of place. In the first year, 20 successful applicants will receive a commission to help research and develop approaches to participatory arts with and alongside communities that can add value to the cultural landscape of County Durham. The opportunity comes with funding, peer support, mentoring and guidance to help develop creative capacity within communities across County Durham, and aims to support 60 commissions over 3 years.

Ensemble ‘84

Ensemble ’84, supported by Redhills CIO
Contact: Ensemble '84

Ensemble ’84 is a new Theatre Company based in Horden Methodist Church, County Durham. Formed with the pioneering and transformation model of co creation from Cape Town’s Isango Ensemble, Ensemble ’84 will work exclusively with County Durham communities to form bold new theatre works for national audiences. From its home in Horden, Ensemble ’84 will offer a core programme of skills development, training and mentoring, and above all a platform for hope, expression and positive change, amplifying unheard voices and harnessing untapped potential within our communities.

Ensemble and Redhills logo
Durham County Council, Redhills, Northern Heartlands and No More Nowt logos

Place Lab

Led by Durham County Council in collaboration with No More Nowt, Northern Heartlands and Redhills CIO
Contact: Jane Hedges

The mission of Place Lab is to use the power of culture and creativity to catalyse change at a local level. Working in towns across County Durham each Place Lab will foster a community-centred approach to culture and regeneration. Hyper-local, place-based activities will boost cultural participation and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and connectivity within and between our communities. Through collaboration with cultural and creative partners, communities will be empowered to actively engage in decisions shaping the future of their places. To achieve this, five Place Labs will be established across the County, complemented by a digital knowledge hub designed to enhance inclusion, connection, and knowledge sharing.

Light Years

Led by Durham University
Contact: Ged Matthews

Light Years is a 3-year programme of dynamic art-science collaborations that celebrates the 1,200 year history of space science in County Durham, shines a spotlight on worldclass research and innovation in next generation spacetech, and invites the public to explore the really big questions of the universe. Light Years will create exhibitions of artistic responses to dark cosmic phenomena, experiential family festivals about spacesuits and Mars bases, campfire conversations under dark skies and an immersive rave installation asking 'are we alone in the cosmos?'

Durham University logo
Visit County Durham

Visit County Durham

Visit County Durham (VCD) is the destination management organisation for County Durham and one of a portfolio of nationally supported, strategic, and high-performing Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (LVEPs).  Accredited by Visit England the LVEPs work in collaboration locally, regionally, and nationally on shared priorities and targets. LVEPs provide strong local leadership and governance in tourism destinations all over the country and provides valuable support to businesses through a range of functions, including marketing, product development, research, quality improvements, routes to market, and training. The visitor economy is worth more than £1 billion a year to Durham’s economy and presents great opportunities to realise the untapped potential of the county, attract more visitors, offer new experiences, and create jobs and opportunities for our residents.

Into the Light is funded by:

National Lottery through Arts Council England logo
Durham County Council logo
Durham University logo

Supported by:

Culture Durham logo
Visit County Durham