Middlesbrough Council – Mayor David Budd

Winner of the Best Local Authority Arts Champion - Councillor in the Hearts for the Arts Awards 2019


David Budd is our elected Mayor in Middlesbrough. He is a champion for the Arts, Heritage and Culture, and has had a huge impact on the cultural sector in Middlesbrough. He is the chair of the North East Cultural Partnership, the Portfolio Holder for Culture in the Tees Valley Combined Authority, and has a strong and positive relationship with Arts Council England. He is also the Chair  of the Culture Thematic group, and has been involved in leading City of Culture 2025 bid for the Tees Valley.

He is an ambitious and brave cultural leader who doesn’t sing his own praises or take the limelight but who has been quietly and slowly building a cultural revolution in Middlesbrough! During his time as Mayor, Middlesbrough has re-opened Middlesbrough Town Hall as a National Portfolio Organisation after a £7.7 million refurbishment which Middlesbrough Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, and Arts Council England contributed to. Middlesbrough Town Hall is a Town Hall for the 21st Century and during its opening over 80 members of the community participated in Erimus, a large scale participatory commission by Southpaw Dance. This was supported by the Mayor and brought together a diverse community of people around the Town Hall, showcasing different spaces of the newly renovated building.

Dave is well known by high profile partners not only in Middlesbrough, but also in the Tees Valley, from The ARC Stockton to MIMA, and Stockton International Riverside Festival. He regularly attends community cultural events, from Ethiopian and Eritrean New Year, to Taste of Africa, to MIMA community lunches. He has supported independent organisations such as House of Blah Blah and Middlesbrough Art Weekender, he has advocated for international facing work and has supported an international artist exchange with both North Sweden and Oberhausen. He really deserves to be recognised!

What the judges had to say:

“His personal commitment really shows. It’s lovely to see a Mayor using a senior position to push so personally for the arts.” – Samira Ahmed, journalist, writer and broadcaster

“David’s commitment, passion and tireless work for the Arts is clear in the citation and the work he has done. Erimus sounds phenomenal and I love that he is campaigning for Tees Valley to compete for City of Culture. I wish him great success. Congratulations.” – Les Dennis, actor, comedian, television presenter and National Campaign for the Arts Champion

“He is clearly a really powerful advocate across many ideas and community voices in a place that is building strength from a difficult base.”

– Jude Kelly, producer, director, founder of Women of the World Festivals and The WOW Foundation, ex-Artistic Director of The Southbank Centre

“A true supporter of what the arts can achieve” – Kwame Kwei-Armah, playwright, director, Artistic Director of the Young Vic Theatre

“As the elected mayor, David Budd has made a significant strategic impact on the area, and successfully advocated for the recognition of the value and impact on arts and culture on a local and regional – and international – platform.” – Lorna Lee, Head of Culture & Heritage Services, London Borough of Waltham Forest, and winner of a 2018 Hearts for the Arts Award

“A cultural champion of the first order, whose commitment to the arts is obviously passionate and deeply held.” – Samuel West, actor, director and Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts

What the shortlisting panel had to say:

“Mayor Budd demonstrates the impact senior political leadership can have in using the arts to transform a place and influence a wider area as well.”

“Mayor Budd appears to be a strong advocate for the arts not just in Middlesbrough, but across the Tees Valley and wider North East region. […] It’s clear that he spends a good deal of time and energy on advocating for, supporting and engaging with the arts in all of their diversity. And it’s great to see that he has an international focus too.”