Margaret Vaughan, Chief Operating Officer of CDCF says “The CIF fund has been a great example of partnership working to invest in the communities of Teesdale, Weardale and former coalfield areas of south west Durham. Through the CIF the Foundation has connected with groups who previously had not explored the potential that small grant funding could deliver to enhance and deepen their group activities.”

Northern Heartlands Community Initiative Fund

Through this small grants scheme, Northern Heartlands aimed to:

  • Help people and communities influence future change by better understanding their past.
  • Help strengthen people’s sense of belonging and identity in the place/locality/landscape where they live
  • Provide opportunities for communities to come together in projects using arts, culture and heritage to support greater prosperity and/or improved health and well-being
  • Provide opportunities to help arts, culture and heritage organisations to collaborate with each other
  • Help people to have more access to arts, cultural and heritage activities, places and events.

Watch this video to hear Northern Heartlands’ Director, Jill Cole, talk about the Community Initiative Fund and see some of the projects that received a grant.

Read more to find out about the wide variety of projects we have funded (all short reads, one to two minutes max).


CIF Round Three – A Sense of Belonging: what makes Willington Distinctive, Willington Primary School

This project engaged the Willington community in finding out what has shaped Willington into the town it is today

CIF Round Four – If You Go Down To The Woods, Jack Drum Arts

“If you Go Down to the Woods” was a piece of interactive professional outdoor theatre aimed at people of

CIF Round Four – Barningham History and Heritage Centre, Barningham Village Hall Association

Barningham Local History Group was founded in 2009 and since its inception has acquired a large archive of books,

CIF Round Four – Remembering and Valuing Through Art, Thornley Village Hall

This project is an extension of the project started in 2018 in Round Two of the Community Initiative Fund. 

CIF Round Four – Project Homecoming Phase 1, Friends of The Wizard and The Typhoon

In the 1860s two boys were born two streets and fifteen months apart in Shildon.   George Allan (the “Wizard)

CIF Round Four – Weardale WordFest, NorthPens

The October 2019 Weardale WordFest aimed to be a  celebration of local writing and writers also featuring illustration, photography,

CIF Round Four – Bishop Auckland Advent Windows

This project created a giant advent calender in Bishop Auckland whereby 24 shops in the town “opened” a window

CIF Round Three – Eggleston Show Folk Music Project, M@HOT

This project developed through a member of the community flash mob choir in the Durham tour of Beyond the

CIF Round Three – Let Them Be Heard, Women’s Banner Group

The aim of this project was to help the Women’s Banner Group (WBG) achieve one of their key objectives

CIF Round Three – Show Cages, Tow Law and District Fanciers Society

The Society has served as a focal point for keepers and exhibitors of poultry and small animals in and

CIF Round Three – Agri[culture], Wideyed

Agri[Culture], a project by Wideyed photography collective.   Initiated in 2018, it documents eight annual agricultural shows within the

CIF Round Three – The Ceilidh Project, Music at the Heart of Teesdale

This project involves 4 ‘seasonal’ ceilidhs through 2019/2020. These public events are being held in community venues across the

CIF Round Three – Holwick Stories, Altogether Archaeology

This is an extension of Altogether Archaeology’s excavation at Holwick in 2018. They explored the cultural heritage of this

CIF Round Three – From Under Our Feet and With Our Own Hands, Hilltop Community Projects

A multi-media arts project using the local landscape as inspiration for a range of creative activities with the Tow

CIF Round Three – Landscape, Nature and the Sheep Farming Year, Tow Law Community Association

As with the CIF Round One project, “Focus on our Native Wild Flowers”, schools and community members continue to

CIF Round Three – Hidden Treasures, Helix Arts

“Hidden Treasures” brings geo-caching to Evenwood offering a unique opportunity to explore its rich cultural history.  The concept involves

CIF Round Three – Woodland Wellbeing, Brightwoods Forest School CIC

This project, continuing until December 2019, is aimed at promoting the mental health and wellbeing in adults who feel

CIF Round Two, Lest We Forget, Jack Drum Arts

This project was a collaboration between three Youth Theatres from the Northern Heartlands area: Jackass (Crook), Turrets (Barnard Castle)

CIF Round Two – Remembering and Valuing Through Art, Thornley and Weardale, Thornley Village Hall

This Project engaged an artist to work with the Thornley Art Group to capture the history and beauty of

CIF Round Two – Evenwood Express – Evenwood, Ramshaw & District History Society

A project involving the local community in understanding and celebrating the heritage wealth of Evenwood and Ramshaw.  Community groups

CIF Round Two – Teesdale in Clay, Teesdale Community Resources

A project enabling local people to learn more about Teesdale’s heritage by using ceramics as the main medium for

CIF Round Two – Skydome, North Pennines Astronomy Society

Small groups were recruited from each of the four Northern Heartlands areas, working in teams to capture time lapses

CIF Round Two – A Walk Through Time, Middleton Plus Development Trust

The project’s objectives were to  research, update and amalgamate information on local walks that has been produced in various

CIF Round Two – Our Place Through Our Eyes, Groundwork NE & Cumbria

This project provided a programme of landscape exploration and related creative activity sessions for a small group of unemployed

CIF Round Two – Intertwining our Threads, Pineapple Castle CIC

Intertwining Our Threads engaged with people of all ages through a twelve month programme of workshops to create community-led

CIF Round One – Highlights Contemporary Craft Tour, The Witham

In the year of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, Highlights Contemporary Craft Tour addressed

CIF Round One – Craft + Conflict, St Thomas’ PCC, Stanhope

This project formed part of the 2018 Highlights Contemporary Craft Tour and comprised a three day art exhibition, running

CIF Round One – Tunes from Teesdale, Music at the Heart of Teesdale

As part of the on-going revival of folk song and dance traditions in the Teesdale area, Music at the

CIF Round One – Focus on our Native Wild Flowers, Tow Law Community Association

This year long ‘Wild Flower’ project worked with schools, community members, conservationists and artists with the emphasis on local

CIF Round One – mY Teesdale, YMCA Teesdale

The project focused on young people exploring the local landscape and heritage buildings with the young people learning about

CIF Round One – At Home With Heritage, St John’s School and Sixth Form College

At Home with Heritage was a cross-curricular project  designed to enhance  students’ education as well as their life experiences

CIF Round One – Discovering Holwick’s Past, Altogether Archaeology

The aim of the group is to promote awareness of the archaeological heritage of the North Pennines and the

CIF Round One – Workshops and Bus Tour of TAN Open Studios, TeesdaleArtNet

TeesdaleArtNet, TAN, are a group of artists living or working in Teesdale, at different stages of their artistic careers,

CIF Round One – Wear Rivers Trust, The River Gaunless for People and Wildlife

Funding from the Northern Heartlands Community Initiative Fund has helped enable, particularly through supporting travel costs (often a barrier

CIF Round One – As You Like It, Drama in the Dale

Drama in the Dale staged a site-specific outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s comedy, As You Like It, in the unique

CIF Round One – Information Station, U-Turn & Waiting Area, Friends of Montalbo School

This project was the final phase of the Montalbo Community & School Train Garden. The project had been going