The QT

Friday 14 June 2024

When the culture continues way past closing time

Seventeen years since it first encouraged venues to keep their doors open after hours – and us to pile through them – The Late Shows has clocked up a reputation for offering a special couple of evenings on Tyneside. Sam Wonfor takes a look at this year’s offer.
The Late Shows return in May 2024

A feast of after-hours culture looks set to – perhaps ironically – arrive right on schedule next month.

The programme for the 16th incarnation of The Late Shows has been unveiled, offering two packed evenings of free activity across Newcastle and Gateshead.

More than 60 music and performance venues, art studios, galleries and museums have signed up to be part of the popular culture crawl – pledging to keep their doors open well after usual closing time and serve up events designed to intrigue and delight well into twilight and beyond.

Taking place on the evenings of May 17 and 18, this year proceedings – which are facilitated by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums – have been sponsored by Creative Central NCL, the arts and culture project aiming to make Newcastle city centre ‘a place for independent artists, creative professionals and cultural organisations to thrive’.

As part of communicating this mission, Creative Central NCL has added five new artistic commissions to The Late Shows line up, each being installed in a location which falls within the project’s footprint.

The Common Room, Dance City and Grainger Market will each host one of the new pieces, with Blackfriars offering a home to two (it is home to a lovely restaurant, so you might have expected it would want an extra helping)

Each commission has been inspired by its location, be that the environment, its heritage or its archives and collections.  

Multimedia artist Emma Tominey will present an Augmented Reality (AR) Art Trail throughout The Common Room, where existing portraits will be overlaid with digital artworks, bringing the art alive for visitors.

Over at Blackfriars, Dearest Haley aims to bring the history of the 13th century surroundings to life with on-the-spot micro-poems.

They’ll be alongside performers, writers and composers, Tim Dalling, Jeremy Bradfield and Faye MacCalman who present The Ballad of Blackfriars, a video projection plus immersive soundscape and a ballad-song to chart the history of the city. 

The Common Room in Newcastle will welcome Late Shows revellers

Down at Dance City, artist Theresa Poulton’s large-scale installation celebrates African American choreographer and activist Pearl Primus.

Across at the city’s Grainger Market, digital artists Multiminded and illustrator Deborah Snell will be imagining what happens inside the historic and still bustling building when everyone has gone home via projection mapping and animation.

Vikki Leaney, project Manager for Creative Central NCL and Economic Development Officer at Newcastle City Council said: “All of the artists have been heavily inspired by the place in which their work will be hosted, and that’s what Creative Central is all about – finding creative ways for people to experience the city in a brand new way, to uncover new stories or be surprised by the hidden heritage of the city centre.” 

The eagle-eyed number crunchers among you may have realised we’ve only mentioned four venues so far, which leaves more than 50 others we haven’t even touched on yet.

Let’s go a little way to rectifying that with a smattering of highlights which have caught our eye from the very busy 2024 programme.

Friday, May 17 (Ouseburn only)

An eco bookshop, live painting, a photography exhibition, a sustainable clothing pop-up and artist Laura Pedley’s solo show will await visitors to The Biscuit Factory.

Over at independent department store, Flea Circus, there will live music and DJ sets as well as chances to win signed prints from resident artist, Dan McBean (aka Mr Watson Design). Next door at the Star and Shadow cinema, there’ll be ‘a free evening of food, DJs, exhibition and cinematic show reels for your listening and viewing pleasure’. 

Visitors can also explore the history of Christ Church while soaking up music and circus performances, trying their hands (or feet) at some new skills and getting to know the resident arts organisations.

Meanwhile relative Ouseburn newcomer, furniture, homeware and gift den, The Find will be the place to discover Moon Light Guide Night – an installation by artist Yvette Ja featuring map folding, origami, paper cutting, and bookbinding.  

The Late Shows offer the chance to explore and enjoy cultural venues after hours


Over in Gateshead, the Shipley Art Gallery is programming a night of crafting, live music, and takeaway art creation led by Gateshead-based creatives. 

If you fancy some panoramic views peppered with heritage talks (weather permitting), then head to Dunston Staiths and find out more about the historic structure.

People and Place is a ‘thematic exhibition’ that brings together work by students from Gateshead College, Newcastle University,  and Northumbria University alongside artists drawn from Orbis Community and those working with Vane Gallery. 

On the other side of the river, we’re starting with capped up FUN.

The Great North Museum: Hancock is offering a crowd of giant inflatables to get on and amongst while the Discovery Museum is inviting everyone to jump into a game of Laser Tag in a Science Maze and other ‘illuminating activities’.

The Laing Art Gallery’s Late Show offering: Art, Industry and Nostalgia will be inspired by the much-anticipated arrival of Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire and will encourage visitors to learn about industry, mapping, and celestial navigation while creating art inspired by the new exhibition.

Over the road at the City Library, guided walks designed to offer an introduction to the rich history of African lives in Northern England will be running regularly.

Meanwhile the Farrell Centre will be offering the chance to explore planning – or if that doesn’t flick your switch, can we interest you in building a marble run or taking a swing at a block printing workshop?

And don’t forget the aforementioned handful of installations at The Common Room, Dance City, Grainger Market and Blackfriars.

The Late Shows will be back on the culture menu in 2024

It’s safe to say the opportunities to hit your step count PB for the month are in abundance, and there will be plenty of options when it comes to keeping your blood sugar and hydration levels at optimum levels (aka, there’s loads of food and drinks to enjoy).

The two-day event, which began in 2007 when just 14 venues took part, is a well-established part of the cultural calendar in the North East, allowing people to truly curate their own experience while hopefully visiting locations they’ve not been to before.

Bill Griffiths, head of programmes and collections at Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums, said: “The Late Shows is a fantastic way to explore the vibrant cultural scene in Newcastle and Gateshead. 

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Creative Central NCL to showcase the 60+ venues taking part in 2024 and the five exciting artist commissions across Creative Central NCL venues. 

The Late Shows promises a weekend of unique after-hours experiences.” 

The Late Shows will take place on Friday, May 17 in the Ouseburn (6pm-10.30pm) and on Saturday, May 18 in venues across Gateshead (6pm-10pm) and Newcastle (6pm-10.30pm).

For full programme information – we really have just scratched the surface here – and details on how best to travel between venues, visit The Late Shows website.


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