A thriving County Durham performing arts organisation is beating the drum for a regional employer after a four figure grant from them paid for repairs to the floor of the music room in the group’s headquarters.
Enter CIC is a social enterprise that uses creative and performing arts to help people of all ages realise their aspirations and reach their full personal potential.
Based in Ferryhill, the five year-old organisation attracts over 200 people from around the region every week to a wide variety of activities and events, including dance, drama, music, musical theatre, singing and general performing arts.
Enter CIC made its home in a 100 year-old former Baptist church in the town four years ago, and has gradually been making repairs and improvements to different parts of the building ever since.
Making the dilapidated music room floor safe had become an urgent requirement, and thanks to a £5,000 grant from The Banks Group via its Banks Community Fund, the necessary improvements have now been made.
The funding has also enabled Enter CIC to purchase a specially-made blind for one of the building’s enormous windows, the size of which previously meant that the room in which it sits became unusable when the sun was shining directly through it. The blinds can also be used as a projector screen, which further extends the range of activities that the Enter Centre can offer.
The activities provided by Enter CIC are designed to help individuals develop new creative, performance and life skills, and to give them opportunities to work in a number of professional theatre environments and community settings which they wouldn’t otherwise have.
The Enter Centre regularly hosts visits from professional artists, including performers from a number of West End shows, while several young people who had their first theatrical experiences with Enter CIC have since gone on to enrol in arts-based higher education courses or work in the creative industries.
Enter CIC also operates as a production house for original theatre writing in the North East, and is an approved examination centre for performing arts qualifications.
Activities are offered for children from the age of three upwards, while a monthly old style ‘gaiety’ event has also recently been launched for local older people.
Andrea Flynn, who founded Enter CIC after spending more than a quarter of a century working in arts education, says: “The challenge in communities like ours is not finding the talent, but giving it the opportunities it needs to develop and shine, and the artistic achievements of many of those who have come through our doors really fly in the face of the expectations of what young people from County Durham can do, create and become.
“The building that has become the Enter Centre was always a community venue, and we’ve tried to retain its accessible character, making it available to outside groups as well as putting on activities which appeal to the widest possible cross-section of the local community, and attracting over 200 people every week shows that we’re managing to achieve this goal.
“All the money we make goes back into the organisation, but we don’t really have the resource to undertake major projects like repairing the music room floor, so getting this sort of generous support from The Banks Group is the difference between getting things done and muddling on as we were.
“Being able to put the blind up on our big window not only makes the space more usable and gives us a new screen onto which we can point a projector, but it will also mean we can better, more controlled use of the natural light that comes into the room and reduce the amount we need to spend on lighting it artificially.
“Our students and the organisation as a whole has achieved so much over the last five years, and we have ambitions to do even more in the future to ensure we will involve as many local people as possible in the activities we host.”
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The breadth of successes that Enter CIC have enjoyed over a relatively short period is extremely impressive, and they are creating new opportunities for young people to express themselves, learn new skills and even find career opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of both operational and proposed Banks Group projects. Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.