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Charity’s £250,000 Grant to Celebrate Community Life


A North East charity is making its largest ever donation to support a permanent celebration of community life.

County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF), based in Durham, has awarded £250,000 to the new Mining Art Gallery, which opens in Bishop Auckland on October 21.

The grant, which represents the largest single donation in the charity’s 22 year history, will be used to fund two gallery rooms dedicated to everyday life in County Durham’s mining communities, including popular hobbies, working men’s clubs, domestic duties and the Durham Miners’ Gala.

It has been made possible thanks to an unrestricted grant to CDCF by the Northern Rock Foundation when it disbanded in 2016, which was then allocated by the Community Foundation for heritage through the arts projects. This grant represents a firm commitment by CDCF to ensure the money stays within the North East community.

Barbara Gubbins, CBE, Chief Executive of County Durham Community Foundation, said: “When CDCF received the unrestricted gift from the Northern Rock Foundation, we recognised this was a real opportunity to support cultural projects in County Durham that would have a real benefit to the local community and resonate with its rich heritage.

“The Mining Art Gallery offers the perfect way to deliver this and build on the legacy of the Northern Rock Foundation, as well as that of CDCF.”

The Mining Art Gallery, created by Auckland Castle Trust in partnership with the Gemini Collection of Mining Art, will pay tribute to the North East’s mining heritage and explore why miners, unlike many other industrial workers, chose to express themselves uniquely through art and creativity.

It will feature works from across the Great Northern Coalfield, including artists such as Norman Cornish and Tom McGuinness, with an active learning and engagement programme giving visitors more ways to engage with the region’s past.

David Maddan, Chief Executive for Auckland Castle Trust, said: “The Mining Art Gallery will have a real resonance for many people across the North East who lived and worked in the region’s mining communities.

“It is highly fitting that County Durham Community Foundation, which strives to bring people together and empower the local community, is now a key part of the project and Auckland Castle Trust is grateful for the charity’s generous support.”

Since launching in 1995, County Durham Community Foundation has awarded more than 14,000 grants, totalling in excess of £35m. It manages charitable funds donated by individuals, families, businesses and trusts, acting as a vital link between donors and local needs. Further details can be found online at

The Mining Art Gallery, which is also supported by The Gemini Collection, Robert McManners OBE and Stefa McManners,Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Banks Community Fund, Bishop Auckland and Shildon AAP and The Sir John Priestman Charity Trust, will open on October 21, with community previews from October 14.

It forms part of Auckland Castle Trust’s £70m plans to create an arts, faith and heritage destination of international significance and revitalise Bishop Auckland.

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