Case Study

The Customs House

The Customs House is the biggest venue for arts and entertainment in South Tyneside, offering an array of live performance, cinema and visual arts as well as projects for children and young people. As a charity, it ploughs all the money it earns or raises into its theatre, cinema and gallery to provide many and varied community engagement opportunities.

The Customs House has a mission to enrich the lives of children, young people and the community through engagement in the arts. It was described by the Arts Council as outstanding in its ability to give everyone the opportunity to experience and be inspired by the arts. 

From giving people the chance to attend their first live show; to offering a social environment for people; to providing space for disability-led organisations; and developing young people in the arts and culture sector - community is at the heart of everything they do. 

In particular, the theatre pursues new writing productions with appeal to the regional audience, such as 'The Dolly Mixtures' and 'Geordie the Musical', as well as producing on of the most enduring and popular pantomimes in the country. 

Many young people, including Little Mix's Jade Thirlwall, singer Joe McElderry and West End actress Alice Stokoe are products of The Customs House programmes and proof of its outstanding ability to develop new talent and igniting the passion for arts. 

The Port's ongoing support has allowed The Customs House to continue to offer its community enriching programme which has engaged with over 24,000 people through 644 participatory sessions for children and young people. In 2016/2017, it supported young people to achieve 535 Arts Awards, inspiring them to grow their arts and leadership talents. Despite cutbacks in funding from other sources, The Customs House has shone through and continues to use arts and culture as a powerful tool to engage, inspire and enrich the community.