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NEWS: Customs House Selected To Take Part In National ‘Future Arts Centres’ Programme

The Customs House Selected To Take Part In National ‘Future Arts Centres’ Programme   

The Customs House has been selected to take part in a national project designed to show the impact of 25 years of National Lottery funding.

The venue is one of 40 nationally - and just four in the north east - taking part in the Future Arts Centres Here and Now project, celebrating culture within communities.

They were each given a brief to create an arts project that was “unexpected, or not what they usually do” but would tell the story of the place and its people.

The Customs House approached Michael Heatley, founder and artistic director of Newcastle-based Hit the Ground Running Dance Theatre Company, to work with pupils from Epinay Business and Enterprise School in Jarrow.

Izzy Finch, Learning and Participation Officer at The Customs House, said: “Our project is called One of The Lads. Michael is our lead artist on this 12-month project and he will be exploring concepts of masculinity, mental health and men’s identities within the context of the post-industrious north east of England.  He has started working with 12 young men from Epinay Business and Enterprise School exploring these themes through movement and physical theatre.”

On Friday, March 20, the group will perform the piece they have been working on at The Customs House, alongside a performance of Macho, a professional dance piece created by Hit the Ground Running. Established in 2015, Hit the Ground Running create dance and physical theatre performances that challenge and question the perceptions and notions of mental health in the modern age. Its mission is to encourage and spark conversations surrounding mental health and to share real life stories of bravery and courage. The company celebrate a collaborative approach to devising theatre, working with local communities and individuals who inspire the development of thought-provoking performances for a wide variety of audiences both young and old.

Michael said: “Having been a dance teacher for nearly two decades and my main focus to encourage lads to dance, One of the Lads was an absolute must and I’m thrilled my company Hit The Ground Running is to be part of it. 

“I’ve been resident dance teacher at Epinay Business and Enterprise School for 16 years now and have always thrived at the energy and focus the students have always given in my lessons. Our main focus in these workshops is to encourage confidence and well-being and engage the students to express themselves through movement as individuals, but also working as part of a team in a safe and fun environment.”

Hit the Ground Running is also bringing its latest production, Suitcases, to The Customs House on Thursday 4th June 4, at 7.30pm. Tickets, priced from £8, are available from the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or online at

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