New phase for North Pennines Observatory

New phase for North Pennines Observatory

A dark skies observatory originally set up by the North Pennines AONB Partnership is set to be operated and managed by the contemporary arts organisation which hosts it in the East Allen Valley in Northumberland.

The North Pennines Observatory is located at Allenheads Contemporary Arts (ACA) at the Old School House in the village of Allenheads. It has now been transferred from the North Pennines AONB Partnership to ACA and will be available for hire and open for community events. The Observatory will also become an integral part of the delivery of the arts programme at ACA.

Andy Lees, Programme Development Manager at the North Pennines AONB Partnership said: “We’re really pleased that the Observatory is moving into this new phase with ACA. The North Pennines AONB has amazing dark skies, and the Observatory is a great venue to experience these with the added dimension brought by ACA’s innovative arts programme.

“ACA has also played an active role in the North Pennines Stargazing Festival in previous years, and we look forward to working together again in future as part of the annual celebration of our dark skies.”

ACA was established in 1995 by Alan Smith and Helen Ratcliffe, operating from the Old School House at Allenheads, where they have a classroom facility and visitor accommodation. They also have an exhibition and studio space in the centre of the village. ACA is an artist-led organisation that delivers projects regionally, nationally and internationally, working through a wide-ranging programme of research and education. The arts programme draws on the natural environment of ACA’s location in the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark, including the exceptionally dark skies.

Helen Ratcliffe said: “This is an exciting development for ACA and we are looking forward to the Observatory playing an increased role in the work we do here. It will also be an opportunity for the local community in the North Pennines to come along to dark skies events at the Observatory, but to experience those skies in a wholly different way, through our contemporary art practice.”

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