A County Durham charity, which is already investing more than £130m, is reaffirming its long-term commitment to the region, with the launch of a new identity and further opportunities for learning, employment and skills development.

Auckland Castle Trust, based in Bishop Auckland, was originally established in 2012 to protect 900 year-old Auckland Castle and a collection of paintings that have hung there for more than 250 years.

Over the past five years, its mission has expanded beyond the Castle walls and now stretches to working with a wide range of partners for the revitalisation of Bishop Auckland, its community and the North East beyond.

From yesterday (Thursday, September 21), in order to reflect this broader focus, Auckland Castle Trust will be known as The Auckland Project – a name chosen to reflect its continued evolution and long-term aspirations, while still honouring its Auckland Castle roots.

David Maddan, Chief Executive Officer for The Auckland Project, said: “Since its launch in 2012, Auckland Castle Trust has worked hard to achieve its original mission and ensure that as many people as possible could enjoy Auckland Castle and its collection of paintings by Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán.

“During that time we have also made great strides in our ambition to transform the Castle into a visitor destination of international significance. Work is underway on the restoration of the Grade I listed Castle, as well as the creation of new attractions within the grounds and in the adjacent Market Place.

“At the same time we are strengthening our commitment to Bishop Auckland, County Durham and the wider North East and expanding our focus beyond the bricks and mortar.

“Re-branding to The Auckland Project is an important milestone in this exciting new chapter and reflects our long-term ambition to help raise aspirations and opportunities through arts, heritage and a culture of learning.”

Brand identity and logos

The Auckland Project will begin appearing on adverts, signage and other promotional materials over the coming days and weeks, with audiences introduced to a new logo, colour scheme and range of specially designed sub-brands covering all elements of the charity’s Future Plans.

This includes the Auckland Tower, formerly known as the Welcome Building, as well as the Mining Art Gallery, Spanish Gallery, Faith Museum, Deer Park and Walled Garden.

The 900-year-old former residence for the Prince Bishops of Durham, which is tied so closely to the origins of the charity, will retain its historic title, Auckland Castle.

All logos include a distinctive arch shape, inspired by the architecture of Auckland Castle, as well as a colour and symbol carefully chosen to represent each element of the scheme, such as a miner’s pickaxe, a stag’s head and a flower.

Lynda Sale, Director of Strategy and Marketing for The Auckland Project, said: “The name Auckland Project represents our historic link to Auckland Castle and reflects how the project will continue to evolve, even once the buildings for our visitor destination are complete.

“This same recognition of the past, present and future, is also evident in the accompanying logos.  The Auckland Project logo for example, which will represent both the charity and the visitor destination, was inspired by Auckland Castle Trust’s existing blue but uses a unique, custom-created shade.

“The Spanish Gallery logo, which centres on a fan, is inspired by the ochres and reds of Spanish soil and terracotta tiles, while the Deer Park and Walled Garden logos both utilise natural tones of green.

“All of these sub-brands have been designed to complement one another and boast the same, striking design elements that make them instantly recognisable as part of The Auckland Project.”

Engagement

To coincide with the launch of its new look, The Auckland Project is developing a new range of programmes for all ages, designed to increase educational attainment, enhance employability, boost community spirit and improve health and wellbeing over the next 20 years.

This will build on initiatives successfully delivered since 2012, including Stepping Stones for Employment in partnership with County Durham Housing Group, which has already helped 20 people from Bishop Auckland find further training, volunteering opportunities or work after being long term unemployed.

Schemes being developed over the next four years will fall under three main banners – Skills for Life, aimed at helping participants build their talents and creating pathways to employment; Learning Throughout Life, providing events, courses and workshops for children, families and adults and Quality of Life, using art, heritage and faith to engage mind, body and spirit, with a particular focus on health and wellbeing.

Where possible, they will be delivered in partnership with other regional organisations, with a focus on communities within three miles of Auckland Castle.

Liz Fisher, Director of Engagement for The Auckland Project, said: “The Auckland Project’s new Engagement Strategy has been designed with the aim of helping to bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of the local community and visitors alike.

“We are developing an extended range of initiatives under the Learning throughout Life, Quality of Life and Skills for Life umbrellas, which we hope will enable participants to believe in their own potential and take real steps towards achieving it.”

Simultaneously, work is continuing on the charity’s plans to create a world-class visitor destination for families, foodies and art lovers, with construction well underway on several new attractions.

Mining Art Gallery opens on 21 October, while in spring 2018 the Auckland Tower, complete with a 15m high viewing platform offering unrivalled views across the town, and the restored Castle are both due to open.

This will be followed within the next three years by the reimagined 17th century Walled Garden, Faith Museum exploring the history of faith in the British Isles and Spanish Gallery, featuring Spanish art from the medieval period to the present day.

Already, the charity has committed more than £130m to these projects, with the aim of creating 8,000 opportunities for learning and skills development and 60 new apprenticeships by 2020, as well as playing a role in helping to attract more than 500,000 visitors to Bishop Auckland, County Durham and the wider North East.

For more information about Auckland Project and the opportunities available, please visit www.aucklandproject.org