People in Sunderland are set to be given more chances to get arty after a popular project was rolled out to five more areas.
The Cultural Spring, which aims to increase participation in the arts in Sunderland, has been extended by a further three years.
Arts Council England have pumped another £1million into the project, which has been working on Wearside and South Tyneside since 2014.
It had been due to finish in December.
The original programme had £2million of funding, focusing on five Sunderland and five South Tyneside wards.
Over the next three years, it will work in five new wards in each borough – including Hendon, Millfield, Pallion, Sandhill and St Anne’s in Sunderland.
The Cultural Spring has succeeded in bringing excitement, joy and enthusiasm in the arts to a lot of people in north Sunderland and South TynesideRoss Millard
Its three founding partners are the University of Sunderland, the Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust and the Customs House, in South Shields.
Cultural Spring director Emma Horsman said: “We’re obviously delighted to be continuing our work for a further three years – and are already looking forward to working in our new wards.
“Consultation sessions in the 10 wards have already taken place and more are in the pipeline.
“What we’ll also be doing over the next three years is extending our reach through our cultural calendar commissions and our Your Art project.
“Your Art helps grass-root groups to engage new and existing members using arts and culture.”
Graeme Thompson, chair of the Cultural Spring and pro vice chancellor at the University of Sunderland, said: “As lead partner, the university is a big advocate of The Cultural Spring and we’re thrilled it will be raising aspirations and engagement within the two boroughs for another three years – at least.”
Paul Callaghan, founder of the MAC Trust, added: “The Cultural Spring has been a huge part of the momentum building in Sunderland’s arts and cultural regeneration.
“It has been a catalyst for several other projects and I see it as a key part of Sunderland’s bid to be City of Culture in 2021.”
Ross Millard, co-founder of Sunderland band The Futureheads and who also performs with Frankie and the Heartstrings, said: “The Cultural Spring has succeeded in bringing excitement, joy and enthusiasm in the arts to a lot of people in north Sunderland and South Tyneside.
“The news that their work will be extended into different parts of the city is really exciting, because more people will now benefit from greater access to workshops, festivals, field trips and ambitious projects that incorporate music, dance, visual art and all sorts of other great stuff.”
Rebecca Ball, former Cultural Spring project director and now director of Sunderland’s bid to be City of Culture 2021, added: “Over the first three years the project has taken huge strides, inspiring thousands to try their hand at new arts activities and of course producing some truly memorable large scale events such as The Great North Passion, Summer Streets and Inventors!
“But we know this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of unleashing the creative potential of this area.
“With the wonderful news that Arts Council England will invest a further £1million through its Creative People and Places programme, Cultural Spring can build on its fabulous first three years and inspire even more people to get involved.
“Cultural Spring opens doors so everyone can discover the creative and cultural activities that they enjoy.
“There can be no better foundation from which to build Sunderland’s ambitions to be UK City of Culture in 2021.”
The project is currently working in five South Tyneside wards and five Sunderland wards, which are Red House, Castletown, Southwick, Fulwell and Roker/St Peter’s.
If you have any ideas about the activities you would like to see the Cultural Spring delivering, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org