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A year of national lockdowns has left many feeling very isolated. ARC in Stockton-On-Tees has helped to keep local creative individuals connected, thanks to its Pizza and Pitches initiative.

ARC first launched Pizza and Pitches in 2019, offering local creatives the opportunity to devise a unique community project. They regularly invited individuals, partnerships or groups to pitch projects, events and activities, tailored to the local community.

Winning projects are awarded £1,000 from ARC, along with staff support and expertise to develop the ideas. The first winners included a skateboarding project and a targeted youth dance initiative. Pizzas accompanied the pitches, when they were served to the ARC audience as they voted for their favourites on the night.

Pizza and Pitches still continued during the national lockdowns, with pitchers delivering their creative visions via Zoom and the audience also voting for their favourites virtually.

March’s winning pitch came from Tees Women Poets (TWP). They will host four socially distanced poetry-photo walks around Stockton. Each walk will take a different route, looking at spaces and places of interest around the town and riverside. During each route they will take photographs and respond in writing to prompts and surroundings.

Walkers will be encouraged to submit both photos and writing to TWP to transform into a series of ‘instapoem’ graphic slides. TWP will then circulate these on social media along with the creative writing prompts. This will spread the walks further to those who can’t attend in person.

Kirsten Luckins, from TWP, said: “These walks are for anyone physically able to join us, who are interested in writing and socializing safely in the open air. Families are very welcome. Winning Pizza and Pitches means the world to us. When I saw the other pitches, I thought I’d vote for them! We only started TWP as an independent group three weeks before the first lockdown, so to get this support means so much to us.”

Applications for the May edition of Pizza and Pitches are open now, closing on the 26 April.

For more details please go to ARC’s website or email Chloe Lawrence at Chloe.Lawrence@arconline.co.uk