North Shields charity celebrates third anniversary

Mike Fleetham, Beveley Knight, Toby Bridges and Karen Knox, from The Exchange.
Mike Fleetham, Beveley Knight, Toby Bridges and Karen Knox, from The Exchange.

A charity set up to provide an inclusive community space for arts and culture is celebrating three years’ of success.

Hundreds of artists, singers, musicians, theatre companies and other performers have been through the doors of The Exchange in North Shields since it opened in January 2016.

Artists from South Africa and Newcastle are among those to have performed at The Exchange.

Artists from South Africa and Newcastle are among those to have performed at The Exchange.

As well as countless exhibitions, performances and productions, the grade II-listed building, on Howard Street, has also provided an affordable space for smaller, amateur groups.

The project began in 2015, when members of not-for-profit theatre company Day 8 Productions set out to find a space for community groups to work from – coming up with the unused Exchange.

Toby Bridges, chairman of The Exchange charity, said: “I have always believed the area should have somewhere community groups can use at an affordable rate – an all-inclusive theatre space. The Exchange is that place.

“We wanted to bring people together and give them a chance to create and exchange ideas and expertise, and that is what we have done over the past three years.

“We don’t look at it as being our space, but for the people of North Tyneside. We are proud of what we have achieved and are looking forward to more success.”

The building, which has a café-bar, 300-seater auditorium and exhibition space, was opened by The Exchange charity on New Year’ Day 2016.

And members of the charity hope that the community can help The Exchange grow.

Toby added: “It is about people having a space to go where they can express themselves freely.

“With young people particularly, being able to stand on a stage in front of an audience can give them the confidence to go on and try anything.

“It’s our aim to create a legacy – we want The Exchange to be here for the community for years to come, so that our children and grandchildren have somewhere to go and to express and develop themselves.”

The Exchange’s artistic director Karen Knox added: “We are a mainly self-funded charity, and like any charity need people to be involved. We are always looking for people to donate – whether that’s money, time or expertise – so please come and get involved with what we are doing.

“The Exchange has had three wonderful years but we want to grow, and need the people of North Tyneside to help us achieve this.”

For more information on The Exchange, including forthcoming acts and volunteering opportunities, visit www.attheexchange.info or check them out on Facebook and Twitter at @attheexchange.

To get in contact with The Exchange, email contact@theexchange.live or call them on 0191 258 4111.