Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 11.04.30STOCKTON is set to host the prestigious British Cycling National Road Race Championships in June next year and community groups are being invited to show the world just how passionate and colourful the Tees Valley can be.

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is working in partnership with the Tees Valley Community Foundation to offer £20,000 in funding to support approximately 20 exciting projects to visually and creatively animate the race route and encourage participation in cycling.

The grant scheme was officially launched today (Monday 12 October) with a stunning piece of visual artwork measuring twenty metres in length by North East-based artist, Mike Clay.

Starting next to the base of the plinth on Stockton High Street, the twenty metre long artwork combines a number of bicycles with a Union Jack-inspired design, signifying the national status of the competition coming to the Borough.

Councillor Norma Wilburn, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, said: “Next year’s event will attract significant media coverage as we welcome the world’s elite cyclists to Stockton.

“This is a great opportunity for the Borough’s community groups to showcase their creative talents and show the world why Stockton is an international destination for both sport and the arts.”

Community groups are being encouraged to apply for the grants which are worth up to £1,000 each. From holding picnics or street parties to creating inspiring decorations and artworks along the route – all applications that could add extra atmosphere to the event will be considered. Projects are also being sought which would use the funding to encourage physical activity via cycling.

Hugh McGouran, Chief Executive of the Tees Valley Community Foundation, said: “We are delighted to offer these grants and we can’t wait to see what ideas and projects people come up with.

“Mike’s street artwork is such an impressive creation and will really get people talking and hopefully excited about how they can get involved as a community in next year’s national cycling championships.”

Artist Mike Clay said: “The artwork takes the form of a perspective view of the Union Jack flag which is painted onto donated newsprint and broken up by around 50 cycles of various sizes.

“The idea is for the piece to act as a visual trailer for the national championships arriving in Stockton next year, which I am very excited about.

“Two years ago I was diagnosed with type two diabetes but after rediscovering cycling I have biked over ten thousand miles, lost five and a half stone and possibly owe my life to the sport!”

Applications are being welcomed for the current round of funding which is open now and there will be a second round in January 2016.

For more information and to apply for a grant, visit www.teesvalleyfoundation.org or call 01642 260860.