Dingy Butterflies

Dingy Butterflies works across Gateshead, developing creative projects for and with the people of Gateshead. We work with artists and in partnership with local community and cultural organisations to create opportunities for people to participate in creative projects.

We aim to increase creativity and participation within the community, develop and improve creative and digital skills, create pride amongst residents in the area and increase opportunities for people to have a voice in local decision-making. Through creativity we want to increase accessibility and enjoyment of local resources and to support people in learning new creative skills through participation in cultural events and projects.

Dingy Butterflies CIC takes inspiration from Robert and Elizabeth Spence Watson who lived at Bensham Grove House from 1875 until 1919 and were prominent social activists in Gateshead and Newcastle. The family valued creativity, education and social justice and were tireless campaigners for workers rights, women’s education, the anti-slave trade, and with a lifelong interest in education, literature and the arts. It is these core values that Dingy Butterflies take as its starting point.

Finally, you may be wondering where the name ‘Dingy Butterflies’ comes from. JB Priestley, when researching his book an ‘English Journey’ in the early 1930’s, visited the educational settlement at Bensham Grove. He described the unemployed men from a group he visited as “the dingy butterflies of the backstreet”. We aim to re-claim the phrase for Gateshead and reuse it in a creative, positive and humorous way.