Creative people, professionals and businesses are being invited to swap their studios for sandwiches, in a unique series of specialist events.

From Thursday 27 April 2017, Pod, Bishop Auckland, will be hosting regular gatherings specifically for ‘creatives’ from across the North East.

The free, informal sessions, run by Auckland Castle Trust, will include inspiring guest speakers, as well as opportunities to create new contacts, share ideas and stimulate discussion.

The aptly named Pod Picnics will be open to anyone with an interest in the creative industries and arts, with all attendees being asked to bring their own blanket, cushions and refreshments to be enjoyed throughout the event.

Pod, based at No.42 Market Place, was launched by Auckland Castle Trust in 2015 to offer fledgling creative businesses a place to thrive.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and John Armitage Trust, it boasts six incubator pods, providing a practical workspace upstairs, with access to a shop and gallery downstairs at No.42, where Pod residents and other artists can sell and display their work.

Among the speakers at the first Pod Picnic on April 27, will be illustrator Gillian Gamble, who has been based at Pod for the past 12 months.  Gillian, who published her first work in 2012, will be sharing how she has developed from a self-taught artist into a multi award-winning entrepreneur, creating clothing, homewares and more.

She will be joined by Lisa Davis, a former teacher who founded not for profit social enterprise, Changing Relations, in 2013, Lindsay Parker, from award-winning Durham-based PR agency, Stride PR, writer, actor and theatre director David Napthine, representatives from Durham’s branch of The Real Junk Food Project, ReFuse,  and Anna Harden, Senior Faith Curator at Auckland Castle Trust.

Pod Manager, Kate Gorman, said:  “Since Pod launched last year we have had great success in our resident artists working collectively and sharing ideas.  We wanted to expand that to the entire creative community in the North East and give people, professionals and businesses across all creative disciplines a chance to get together in a fun and informal way.”

The first Pod Picnic will run from 6.30pm – 9.30pm on Thursday 27 April.  It is free to attend but places must be reserved in advance by emailing bookings@aucklandcastle.org

More information about Pod can be found online at www.aucklandcastle.org/the-pod and enquiries about booking a Pod studio can be sent to kate.gorman@aucklandcastle.org