Sunderland’s ‘ugly Lego air raid shelter’ arts venue is a thing of beauty - you just have to look hard enough!

How the auditorium will look from the corner of Dun Cow Street

How the auditorium will look from the corner of Dun Cow Street

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Beauty, they say, comes from within.

And in the case of the new performing arts venue planned for the city that’s probably just as well.

For the artist’s impressions of the new auditorium alongside the old Fire Station in High Street West have come in for some stick from a section of our readership.

The building has been condemned by some as an eyesore air raid shelter, an ugly 1960s box and a grim Lego square.

While the initial artist’s impressions have drawn criticism, they should not detract from what is a fantastic coup for the city.

Those who moan about the aesthetics of the place are probably the same who complain of having to travel to Newcastle and beyond for their entertainment.

How the Fire Station development will look

How the Fire Station development will look

Thanks to a £6million Lottery grant this £8.2million, 450-seater performance centre marks another landmark moment in the city’s cultural ambitions.

We are about to get a purpose-built creative arts and culture centre, and still people find something to complain about! It was ever thus. What it may lack in architectural wonder for some, it more than makes up for in ambition. MAC Trust chairman John Mowbray has described the coup as a ‘game-changer’ in terms of the cultural offer of the city.

In layman’s terms that means we are getting a new place to see great bands, shows and performers. Bums on seats, business for the city and fun for the people - what’s not to like?

The artist’s impressions don’t tell the whole story and the finished article may well look a lot brighter, better and, dare we say, beautiful. (Look closely and you’ll see the first floor is not solid red brick but slatted to let in light and offer a view from inside and out).

Fire Station Director Helen Green (front right) with MAC Trustees, from left, Ross Millard, Marie Nixon, Paul Callaghan and John Mowbray

Fire Station Director Helen Green (front right) with MAC Trustees, from left, Ross Millard, Marie Nixon, Paul Callaghan and John Mowbray

In the week of Valentine’s Day, we should show more love for our city and this great new venue.

C’mon, look for that beauty within.