£1million bid to boost Sunderland’s arts, culture and heritage

The Sunderland Culture Group: Left to right, David Roberts, Steve Knight, Graeme Thompson, Rebecca Ball, Fiona Brown, Keith Merrin, Iraa Kadchha, Coun John Kelly, Annabel Turpin and Andrew Mackay.
The Sunderland Culture Group: Left to right, David Roberts, Steve Knight, Graeme Thompson, Rebecca Ball, Fiona Brown, Keith Merrin, Iraa Kadchha, Coun John Kelly, Annabel Turpin and Andrew Mackay.
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More than £1m could be ploughed into Sunderland’s arts, culture and heritage.

Sunderland Culture, a new company set up to manage the city’s major cultural attractions, has submitted a bid of £1.3m to the Great Place Scheme, a £15m initiative funded by Arts Council England (ACE) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The scheme was one of the flagship measures unveiled in the wake of last year’s Culture White Paper and aims to pilot new approaches that enable cultural, community and civic organisations to work more closely together. It will invest in 12 places across England and the successful pilot schemes are due to be unveiled in late March.

Keith Merrin, chief executive of Sunderland Culture, said a successful bid could make a real difference to Wearside: “Our bid is one for the whole borough and has four strands: how we can improve the city’s creative economy; how arts and culture can help tackle the city’s health challenges, how the sector can improve community connections, and what we can do to help the lives of young people.

“Our health project would be based in the Coalfields; the young people’s project in Washington; the creative economy strand would concentrate on the city centre while the connectivity activity would take place in Pallion, Millfield and Castletown – areas most affected by the new bridge.

“A successful bid would also mean we could improve how we communicate our cultural offering to Wearsiders and those beyond the borough, while at the same time allow us to grow and develop Sunderland Culture – five new jobs would be created, for instance.

“The scheme would enable us to put arts, culture and heritage at the heart of the future vision for Sunderland.”

Sunderland Culture was established last year by the University of Sunderland, the city council and Sunderland Music Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, which is developing a new cultural quarter behind the Sunderland Empire.

The company will manage and operate major cultural venues owned by the three partners, and develop and deliver large-scale cultural projects. It will also raise the profile of the city’s arts provision and manage programming for the city’s cultural sector.

Delivering a successful Great Place project would be one of the company’s first roles within the city. The scheme aims to:

•Build on existing strengths within the local arts, culture and heritage sector to maximise their positive cultural, social and economic contribution.

•Build new partnerships to realise this contribution and lever resources into the sector to support that.

•Develop partnerships so the contribution of the sector is recognised in, and supported by, long-term plans and strategies for the area – for instance, the •Local Enterprise Partnership’s Strategic Economic Plan, or destination management plans.

Rebecca Ball, director of the city’s bid to become City of Culture 2021, said: “A successful Great Place bid would be a fantastic opportunity to add to the growing cultural offering in Sunderland and be a big step toward our ambitions for 2021.”