Support steps up a gear for Sunderland City of Culture bid

Lilly Thompson and sister Emmie Thompson will be hosting an exhibition at the partnership launch
Lilly Thompson and sister Emmie Thompson will be hosting an exhibition at the partnership launch
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Wearside MPs, business leaders and charity chiefs will celebrate the launch of their partnership to support Sunderland’s bid to become City of Culture 2021.

A number of influential people have rallied round to throw their weight behind the bid which, if successful, could spark a host of cultural activity while ploughing up to £80m into the local economy.

Ryhope pumping station

Ryhope pumping station

The launch, held at Ryhope Engine Museum tomorrow night, will include performances from local singers Prince and Pearl, an exhibition from the North East Photographic Network and the showing of a photographic exhibition by Sunderland pupils Emmie and Lilly Thompson, aged 16 and 15.

There will also be the unveiling of a new piece of work from local artist Mick Stephenson, who has created a light sculpture out of Sunderland’s striking 2021 City of Culture logo.

Meanwhile, Dancejam, a company providing street dance classes from its base in Sunniside, will also be performing in front of the expected 65 guests.

“We aim to grow a far-reaching partnership to help support and promote our bid to be City of Culture,” said bid director Rebecca Ball.

“So we’ll be talking to key stakeholders from across the city and beyond and explaining to them the clear benefits of the bid and the impact a successful bid would have on some of the challenges facing Sunderland,” she added.

Support for Sunderland’s bid is growing, and last week it was revealed more than £500,000 had been pledged - in cash and in-kind – from a range of businesses and organisations from across the city, all of whom can see the huge cultural, economic and social benefits of landing the title.

The previous week the influential Sunderland Business Partnership, consisting of more than 50 local companies and organisations, unanimously backed the bid.

“There are three ways businesses, organisations and individuals can help,” explained Rebecca.

“First of all, we’d like everyone to spread the word about the impact and benefits of Sunderland 2021; secondly we’d like people to show their support by spreading the word on social media, showing the rest of the country how much Sunderland wants this title.

“And lastly, if businesses or organisations are in a position to offer practical or financial support, we’re looking for partners to help us reach the £1m bid target.”

The Sunderland bid is being written by a team from Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, the University of Sunderland and Sunderland City Council. The bid will be submitted in spring next year, a shortlist is then drawn up with four cities invited to submit second round bids in autumn 2017, with a winner declared shortly after.

Other cities who have said they will be submitting bids include Coventry, Perth, Paisley, Stoke, Hereford, Warrington. Sunderland is currently among the front runners, sitting in second position with bookies.

To show your support on social media, visit the bid’s Facebook page or follow the bid on Twitter at @Sunderland2021. The website – www.sunderland2021.com - also contains details of how people can get involved, with downloadable materials.