You know, it's two years since my diagnosis of M.E - on Monday I saw my lovely friend Julie for the first time since I was 18/19 (I'm now 43). She was asking about what I did, what was my work - I said, arts development officer Newcastle, strategic arts manager Sunderland, director of durham city arts, and then set up my own company, Dilly Arts, specialising in arts with prisoners and their families. In talking about it Graeme reminded me the projects I'd delivered won platinum in the koestler awards for prison arts. We, as DCA delivered the first light festival in Durham called Enlightenment which was my idea, helped along by Kate James and more so ISIS arts when I needed to go off on maternity to have Inigo - that went on to be Durham Lumiere which is a brilliant light festival in Durham. We won awards for the Durham literature festival, which we changed to the Durham book festival and then handed it over to New Writing North as they were much better placed to take the festival forward. As dilly arts we also instigated, designed and managed the play about women prisoners and their lives called 'Key Change' with open clasp theatre co - it turned out to be a nightmare (and aided my illness through stress) as open clasp were very aggressive to work with and wouldn't properly credit dilly arts, beyond our sell out performances at Live Theatre, but the play went on to win best at Edinburgh festival and a run in New York just off Broadway - dilly arts project with Hexham goal also won prizes with Michael Gandham's company and Lalya Gaye.... In amongst all of this we've worked with so, so many people who've got so much out of our projects.... For so so long I couldn't think about work, but I'm slowly getting better, and you know what? I'm fucking proud of the work I've done in the past and what I've achieved even if I or my company weren't always given the credit we deserved! Ally ...

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5 years ago this week I set up Dilly Arts having taken the big decision to leave my post of Director of Durham City Arts. I haven't regretted a moment, even when as a single mum I was skint. The projects we have developed and delivered across north east prisons, are among my proudest and favourite career-long projects, working with some fabulous people, inside prison both staff and prisoners - and working with some brilliant artists, most of which I'm happy to call close friends - as I am my wonderful board Suzy, Graeme and Sheree, it's been fantastic! .... It was all going so well and wonderful until M.E hit me last year and I was told to stop working.... So Dilly Arts happy anniversary, I'll be back as soon as I can!
Ally
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Dilly Arts shared Boxwell Web Design's post. ...

We have been doing quite a bit of graphic design work for Jittabugs Durham recently. Here is an example of an A5 leaflet they wanted to produce to advertise their sessions.If you are looking to have anything professionally designed, ask for a no obligation quote. You'll be amazed at how competitive our pricing is.

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Wishing all the best to Open Clasp Theatre Co, the wonderful cast and team getting ready to take Key Change to NYC - hope you all have an amazing time! Sending all our love and support, Ally xxxx ...

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Please join us for the public opening of the new permanent exhibition at Hexham Old Gaol called Beyond the Borders.

The project devised and managed by Dilly Arts, working with HMP YOI Low Newton, HMP Frankland and HMP Durham and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been working with contemporary prisoners, historians and artists over the past year to bring to life the stories and experiences of prisoners housed within Hexham Old Gaol during the period of the Border Reivers through hand held digital portals using augmented reality.

We'd be delighted if you and your family were able to join us for the public opening at 1pm on Saturday 28th November 2015. We hope to see you there!
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Exciting happenings are in the air.... Big news to follow.... ...

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And.... We WON!!!! Key Change has just won the Carol Tambor Award for 'Best of Edinburgh' at the Fringe Festival! This means that it will premiere in New York City! Right now I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed that a project idea I put to wonderful HMP YOI Low Newton staff (you know who you are!) under the working title 'Low Newton Women's Stories' literally whilst breastfeeding Effie at a meeting all those months ago has gone on to achieve so much for our participants! I'm so delighted that a Dilly Arts project is getting the well deserved praise for the absolutely fantastic Open Clasp Theatre Co, for Catrina McHugh's incredible writing, Laura Lindow's amazing directing and the outstanding cast and crew.... This project wouldn't have achieved the success without Open Clasp's incredible talent, skill and determination! But more than anything else I'm full of joy and gratitude that the stories and voices of women in Low Newton prison have been given the acknowledgement they deserve, that they will be going to an even bigger international audience!!!! Dilly Arts is the only organisation in the north east specialising in working with prisoners and their families and all the work we do comes from three core aims: to provide opportunity for people to access high quality arts experiences that can truly change their lives, to provide opportunity for artists to challenge and develop their own practice through working in prisons and through the arts to help better inform our communities of the lives of prisoners in the hope that society can learn to better support prisoners upon completing their sentences.... On behalf of the women and staff in HMP YOI Low Newton, Open Clasp Theatre Co, all the artists and staff involved in the project and Dilly Arts, I'm feeling very happy and proud right now of what we've achieved together!!!!
With huge thanks to Arts Council England for funding the 'Low Newton Women's Stories' project.
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In Spain with no internet all day and then THIS news we can now share.... We have just received confirmation that Key Change has been shortlisted for the Carol Tambor 'best of Edinburgh' award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (results on Friday) - if we win, we get to take the performance to premiere in New York City! Huge thanks to the fantastic Open Clasp Theatre Co - so pleased I followed my gut instinct that we couldn't ask any other theatre company to work with us on our project in working with female prisoners to tell their stories and represent them to a male prisoner and public audience AND a huge thanks to the amazing cast and crew who've held the women's voices in their hearts. BUT most of all a MASSIVE gratitude to the staff at HMP YOI Low Newton who said 'yes' when I asked them to trust Dilly Arts with this risk taking project and to all the female prisoners who took part and shared their stories; this work is from them and about them and we have huge gratitude to each and every one for trusting us and allowing us to continue to do the privileged work in north east prisons we do at Dilly Arts. ...

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