Writing festival takes place in historic Sunderland church

Some of those that will be taking part in the New Writing Festival at the Canny Space, Holy Trinity Church, Sundereland on the 18th/19th October. Pictured is Rosie Ramsey.(right) reading to some of the other writers
Some of those that will be taking part in the New Writing Festival at the Canny Space, Holy Trinity Church, Sundereland on the 18th/19th October. Pictured is Rosie Ramsey.(right) reading to some of the other writers
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AN EMERGING cultural venue has sparked writers into putting pen to paper.

This weekend Holy Trinity Church, East End, will host a New Writing Festival featuring pieces specifically written for the space.

Under the working title The Canny Space, a £3.4m bid has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to transform Sunderland’s former parish church into a hub of arts and culture.

The Churches Conservation Trust, which took over the church almost 20 years ago, has teamed up with a number of other partners in the city to give the dilapidated building a new identity.

This weekend’s festival is the latest event staged there to breathe new life into the venue.

Built in 1719, the church once played a central role in Sunderland life and was the base for the area’s first fire station, magistrates’ court and library.

Developed in partnership with TheatrespaceNE and Sunderland Libraries services, the festival showcases the work of a host of writers who have written pieces based on the history of the church, the area and characters attached to the East End.

Corinne Kilvington, artistic director with theatre group TheatrespaceNE, said: “We staged The 39 Steps at the venue, which was attended by a lot of writers who hadn’t been to the space before. They were really interested in how beautiful and historically important it is.

“We had been speaking to The Churches Conservation Trust and we developed the idea of linking the two and creating pieces in response to the building.”

The festival will feature a combination of short performed theatre pieces, as well as prose and poetry.

As part of Sunderland Literature Festival, there will also be two free spoken word workshops each day, one for adults and one for families.

Highlights will also include a makers market.

Corinne added: “Performances will take place around the building, the audience won’t just be sitting in the pews, so they’ll be able to see the building from a whole new perspective.”

The event has free entry, but performances are ticketed. Visitors can pay for the performances they’d like to see, priced £4 per performance, or buy a weekend pass for entry to all performances, which is £15.

Ticket prices are halved for the local community – SR1/SR2 postcodes - as the event is supported by local councillors via The Community Chest.

If the HLF bid is successful, it will help to turn the Grade I-listed building into a visitor attraction, a centre for heritage, learning and performance.

It is hoped the potential building work can be completed by spring 2017, with the new-look Holy Trinity opening its doors soon after.

l The New Writing Festival at The Canny Space, Holy Trinity Church, runs from 11am to 4pm tomorrow and Sunday.