Keep art in the family

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The Sunderland Family Arts Network is gearing up to provide a feast of festive entertainment. Katy Wheeler finds out what’s on offer

Get crafty this Christmas – thanks to a new city initiative.

The newly-formed Sunderland Family Arts Network is preparing to launch its Christmas Programme which will allow families to get involved in a range of festive arts activities.

Following on from the success of its recent Family Arts Festival, the network is continuing to provide a host of entertainment based around art and craft.

For those looking to get creative with hands-on activities, the network will be offering interactive workshops throughout the festive period including Christmas-themed Lego and superhero figure painting, at artist Deborah Cauchi’s Sunniside studios, and glass bauble blowing with Creative Cohesion, also in Sunniside.

Other highlights will include Arts Centre Washington’s Christmas Tales and Winter Stories.

The Family Arts Network’s newest member, The Canny Space at Holy Trinity Church in the East End, will have a day of family fun and entertainment on December 14.

Families will also be treated to a visit from the Tinker Fairy when she turns on the Christmas lights and will also have the opportunity to make their own Christmas decorations.

This will be followed by Carols by Candlelight by the Sunderland Theatre Company.

The network’s co-ordinator, Kathryn Tye of Creative Cohesion, said: “The Sunderland Family Arts Network had loads of great arts activities planned for the city over the Christmas period, helping families get into the festive spirit whilst getting creative.

“There are so many fantastic arts organisations in the area – by coming together as the Sunderland Family Arts Network, we hope to support each other and increase awareness and involvement amongst families.”

The Sunderland Family Arts Network was set up in response to the Family Arts Festival, a nationwide campaign, which aims to develop the range of arts events and activities available to families across the UK.

Formed as part of the Arts Council-supported Family Arts Campaign, the network includes: Creative Cohesion, Arts Centre Washington, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, ASSIGN, E-on Arts, Deborah Cauchi Fine Arts and The Bunker.

Matthew Blyth, audience development officer at Arts Centre Washington, said: “We’re really pleased to be part of the Sunderland Family Arts Network, anything that showcases the diverse range of arts organisations working in Sunderland can only be beneficial to the city.

“Here at Arts Centre Washington, we are looking forward to playing host to a number of festive events including our Christmas craft Fair on Saturday, which will be the perfect place to find unusual handmade gifts, treats and decorations.”

Arts Centre Washington will also have children’s show One Snowy Night until Saturday.

Lesley Cooperwaite, from Creative Cohesion, said: “Our glass bauble blowing workshops are a perfect Christmas activity, allowing families to blow their own baubles under the expert guidance of our resident glass blower, Roger Tye.

“We’re also looking forward to the Creative Cohesion Christmas Party on December 14 when, as well as bauble blowing, families will be able to take part in Christmas crafts and there will also be some seasonal storytelling.”

* For more information on the activities taking place visit www.facebook.com/FANSunderland or follow the network on Twitter @FANSunderland.