Sunderland creative groups join forces for 2021 City of Culture bid

Hannah Matterson, of the MAC Trust, in Sunderland's Keel Square
Hannah Matterson, of the MAC Trust, in Sunderland's Keel Square
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Creative people from across Wearside and beyond will join forces to help kick-start Sunderland’s bid to become the 2021 City of Culture.

The city has announced plans for a three-day programme designed to celebrate the culture surging through the streets, galleries, schools, businesses and venues of Sunderland from Friday, September 18, to Sunday, September 20.

Hannah Matterson, of the MAC Trust, in Sunderland's Keel Square

Hannah Matterson, of the MAC Trust, in Sunderland's Keel Square

The line-up, which will be centered on the newly developed Keel Square in the city centre, includes a schedule of activities to officially mark the city’s intent to bid for the coveted prize.

The launch will see a bumper line-up of entertainment including The Jersey Boys, winners of Gentoo community competition Gen Factor, SK Dance, and vocalist Sophie Ann Robson.

Other entertainment includes a performance from Sunderland University students from Sage Gateshead, a newly commissioned piece from Theatre Space NE, a circus street performer, bands including Frankie & the Heartstrings and a City of Culture Film that shows community groups and everyday people talking about what Sunderland means to them.

A consortium of city organisations will develop Sunderland’s bid for the title, including the Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, the organisation that has led on the planning of the launch event.

Frankie and the Heartstrings at Pop Recs in Fawcett Street, Sunderland.

Frankie and the Heartstrings at Pop Recs in Fawcett Street, Sunderland.

Paul Callaghan, chairman of the MAC Trust, said: “The launch event will set the tone for Sunderland City of Culture Bid, and will be a huge celebration of our city and all that makes it special – from the welcome of our people, to our exciting independent music scene, from the architecture unique to our city, to the artists and photographers so skilled at capturing our rich heritage.

“The arts and culture scene has provided the city’s creative heartbeat for generations – it was once home to Venerable Bede; it remains the glass making capital of the country; it is a city that gave the world light – the birthplace of Joseph Swan.

“And today, it remains a city that is a shining light of warmth – a city that moves to its own beat.”

He added: “We really do believe in our ability to win the City of Culture status, but we equally recognise that being part of the process is something that will deliver huge benefits to Sunderland.

Paul Callaghan and John Mowbray outside the old Fire Station in Dun Cow Street.

Paul Callaghan and John Mowbray outside the old Fire Station in Dun Cow Street.

“Cities that throw their hat into the ring benefit immensely, and this launch event is the start for us to embark on a learning curve that will open everyone’s eyes to just what Sunderland was, is and is aiming to become.”

The City of Culture 2021 launch event marks the start of the process of Sunderland compiling its bid to be crowned in the contest, which runs every four years.

The 2017 winner was announced as Hull, with the winning city is able to use the title as a chance to spell out their vision for their city and how they will use the honour to make a step change in their area and create 
a lasting legacy.

The North East Photographic Network (NEPN) has also commissioned Julian Germain to exhibit his latest photography project, as well as a pop-up photography studio that will feature futuristic images of Sunderland by polish-born photographer Kuba Ryniewicz’s to excite and involve residents in the city’s 3,6,9 Vision, which sets out how the city will look in in three, six and nine years time.