Letters, Monday, April 13, 2015

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Museums play an important part

IN the list of notable anniversaries which accompanied the Echo’s report of the Economic Leadership Board’s 3, 6, 9 Vision there is one noticeable omission.

 The year 2021 is the 175th anniversary of Sunderland becoming the first local authority-run museum in the country outside London. This is of national importance and surely at least as significant as the 120th anniversary of Roker Lighthouse.

 While the commemoration of an anniversary might seem a minor matter, it seems to reflect the fact that those involved in drawing up cultural policies for Sunderland overlook the City’s Museums in favour of new projects which do feature in the Vision report. Yet it is Sunderland Museums who have exhibits which cover many of the topics mentioned, such as Bede’s St Peter’s and Sunderland’s traditional industries, as well as housing the first Nissan car made in the city.

 It also appears to the Friends of Sunderland Museums that the recent Cultural Strategy for Sunderland does not give sufficient prominence to the museums and their collections.

 The strategy emphasised art rather than heritage, but, even here, the collections in the Art Gallery are not mentioned. These include the important displays of paintings and drawings by L S Lowry. It was Lowry who wrote “I like Sunderland because of the shipping and shipbuilding and the countryside at the back ... I like the sea” and his works are examples of how Wearside inspired a great artist.

 Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens has an impressive track record as a major regional cultural attraction with more than 340,000 visitors a year.

 After the last refurbishment it won the Visit England’s Excellence in England Silver Award 2004 when the other finalists were all nationally-funded museums.

 The development of new displays, which the city council is planning, should certainly figure in any future strategies prepared by the Economic Leadership Board.

 The Friends of Sunderland Museums very much welcomes developments such as the Tall Ships Race and the bid to become the UK City of Culture. However, we are concerned that the potential for the museums to be become a vital part of these should not be forgotten.

John Grundy, vice-president,

Neil Sinclair, vice-president,

Elsie Ronald, chairman,

Friends of Sunderland Museums

Take pride in your appearance

THE unseasonal Easter weather has been tremendous, however, it does bring out a downside.

 This being men walking about The Bridges in shorts. I simply cannot stand watching them.

 Many of these men are overweight, pot bellied and to add to the shorts sport – a baseball cap and flip flops.

 These men must not look in the mirror when they dress or have a mentor like a wife advising them, but I think it looks dreadful and I would call upon the authorities to ban men in shorts from the city centre.

 This isn’t Miami or Florida it is a industrial city in North East England and we should take pride in our appearance.

Mick The Pen Brown

Debate over song lyrics is tiresome

THE sale of the hand-written lyrics for Don McLean’s American Pie for $1.2million has once again brought up the tired old question of what the song ‘really means’.

 I’m getting sick of people going on about this song as if it were the only song in the entire history of music with slightly vague lyrics.

 I can think of a million songs off the top of my head that could fit that description, but they don’t get held up as some great mystery.

 The real mystery is why American Pie became popular at all – it’s rubbish.

Darren Gladstone,

Boldon