Clubbers, theatres and cocktail makers – who are your heroes of Sunderland’s leisure scene?



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ENTRIES have been flooding in for our new awards which celebrates culture, entertainment, leisure and hospitality in the city.

The Excellence Awards are your chance to gain recognition for your favourite pub, restaurant, band and much more.

And there’s still time for you to make your nominations.

The winners will pick up their awards at a ceremony at The Best Western Roker Hotel, on February 27.

Echo editor John Szymanski, said: “This is the first time we are hosting these awards because Sunderland is not best known for its arts and cultural scene.

“However, there are fabulous ventures and initiatives across the city which richly deserve to reach a wide audience.”

The categories are:

•Park/Community Area of the Year

•Lifetime Achievement Award

•Hotel/Guest House of the Year

•Community Event of the Year

•Show/Performance of the Year

•Recreation Facility/Children’s Venue of the Year

•Cocktail Maker of the Year

•Best Shopping Experience

•Restaurant of the Year

•Entertainer/Musician(s) of the Year

•Pub of the Year

•Social Club of the Year

•Nightclub of the Year

•Clubber of the Year

•Takeaway of the Year

•Contribution to Culture.

Among those nominated so far are Theatre Space North East, who’ve received a number of nominations for Show/Performance of the Year.

The Sunderland-based troupe takes Shakespeare’s masterpieces out of their traditional settings and performs them around Barnes Park.

Scores of dog-walkers, families and park visitors followed the actors around the park last summer when they performed The Tempest.

As well as productions in the park, the group is also involved in storytelling sessions, workshops and youth theatre clubs to encourage young people to involve themselves in theatre and the arts.

Among the watering holes nominated in the Pub of the Year is Bar Justice in Sunniside, which has been praised for “creating a local pub feel in a city centre setting.”

Meanwhile, Helen Green, creative director at Arts Centre Washington, has been nominated in the Contribution to Culture category.

Since she joined the centre four years ago she’s been praised for transforming it into a regionally-recognised centre of excellence for the arts.

One of her many successes is The Mix, which provides free arts activities for youngsters aged up to 19 years old.

Hundreds of young people have benefited from the sessions which include art, drama, dance, media, circus skills, computer game programming and more.

She has also brought touring theatre companies from across the country to Washington for the first time, while also giving support to local companies such as Theatre of Moths, Breana and No Limits.

•Make your nominations here