See Sunderland's new £11m Auditorium rising into city centre skyline ahead of opening

Sunderland’s skyline has welcomed some new additions in recent months with major construction work taking place on the former Vaux site as part of the Riverside development, as well as over the road at The Fire Station.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 4:55 pm

The city’s new £11m Auditorium, which is being built onto the side of The Fire Station, has transformed a former car park in Garden Place and is set to welcome its first audiences in the coming months.

Designed with a capacity of 450 people seated or 800 standing, The Auditorium lies between the size of the neighbouring 2,000-seater Empire and smaller music venues such as Independent. Set to open this spring, it will also have an outdoor space for socially-distanced performances.

Although there’s no exact opening date as yet, the Government has announced, as part of the roadmap leading the country out of Lockdown, that theatres and concert halls can open their doors from May 17.

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Sunderland's new Auditorium is taking shape
Sunderland's new Auditorium is taking shape

The Auditorium is part of the wider Fire Station development, supported by Sunderland City Council, Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which has transformed an Edwardian fire station in High Street West into an artistic and cultural hub, housing The Engine Room bar and bistro, drama studio, dance studio and a heritage exhibition space.

Last year it was announced the venue had been granted £1.38m from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund to help reduce the impact of Covid.

The Fire Station’s newly-appointed director Tamsin Austin said: “The Fire Station is a beautifully-designed auditorium and its flexibility will give great scope for a diverse and exciting programme of live concerts, festivals, theatre, dance and comedy, and will delight local people as well as put Sunderland on the map nationally and internationally.”

Speaking about the opening programme, she said: “I’m already thinking about the opening programme, which will be challenging because of Covid. We will be creative and find ways to welcome artists and audiences, whatever restrictions are in place.”

The Auditorium is part of the wider Fire Station development

The new venue is being delivered by Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust and will be run by Sunderland Culture.

It has been designed by award-winning architects Flanagan Lawrence, with fixtures, technology and equipment specified by international acoustic experts Idibri and is being built by Sunderland-based Brims Construction.

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The land was once a private carpark
The build is progressing well
The internal fit out is also taking shape. Photo by David Allan.
The new performance space is set to bring a variety of arts and culture to the city
The space will hold 800 standing
Progress build update on The Fire Station Auditorium, Sunderland.