In the Forge

The Forge is a participatory arts organisation powered by artists, young people and communities.

We make creative projects happen with young people, disadvantaged communities, local artists and world class-professionals. We have deep roots, but a global outlook. Our projects release the creative energy, drive and talent of young people to help them better understand the world, its culture and their place in it.

  • Confidence building.
  • Vision realising.
  • Difference making.
  • Vision realising.
  • Vision realising.

Who we are!

The Forge develops participatory arts programmes with, by and for young people. Founded in 2001, we are an award-winning Arts Council National Portfolio organisation with a long history of developing inspirational arts programmes across the North East.

We work with a range of partners including schools, universities, museums, galleries and other cultural providers to improve outcomes for children, young people and their families, particularly those facing economic, social or educational disadvantage. Ninety five per cent of our programme happens in places of least cultural engagement and focuses on overcoming the barriers that prevent people from accessing arts and culture. In recognition of our exemplary work with schools, we have been commissioned by Culture Bridge North East to deliver Artsmark, the Arts Council England’s (ACE’s) flagship programme for schools. We are also a regional training centre for Arts Award, ACE’s award scheme for young people.
We work from our base in Stanley – a former mining community – and much of our pioneering participatory work takes place in and around the former colliery villages of North Durham.


Since its inception in 2001 The Forge has grown from strength to strength and is now the leading arts in education agency in the North East.

Our success is due to our collaborative approach to project building; we seek out key cultural and educational partners and identify appropriate artists to maximise the impact and value of our programmes. We work with artists from all art forms and with young people of all ages - from Early Years to Sixth Formers and University Students. Our projects are similarly eclectic and range from “off the shelf” artist workshops to longer bespoke programmes designed around unique briefs. Examples of the latter include artist residencies to support school’s Cultural Education Weeks, commissioned art-works to celebrate British Values, Theatrical Summer Schools to support transition, drama-based programmes to address social media safeguarding and tackle online vulnerabilities, a spoken words workshop series to help ESBD children engage with Shakespeare, and Continuing Professional Development opportunities for teachers across a range of art-forms.

Get in touch with us at the Forge