Graduate putting art into the heart of Sunderland

Vincent Todd of Norfolk Street Arts with co-director Joy Dagless.
Vincent Todd of Norfolk Street Arts with co-director Joy Dagless.

A Sunderland graduate is putting art into the heart of the city to support young talent.

Vincent Todd graduated from the University of Sunderland with an MA in Curating and has now set up a studio in the city.

Norfolk Street Arts in Sunderland set up by Vincent Todd.

Norfolk Street Arts in Sunderland set up by Vincent Todd.

The 26-year-old, originally from York, has opened Norfolk Street Arts providing a 17-strong studio space where visual artists can explore, experiment and cultivate their talents.

After seeing the multitude of creative talent in the region, Vin wanted to establish an environment in which burgeoning young artists could flourish without having to move from the North East.

In January he approached the University of Sunderland’s Enterprise Place for help to start up his own Community Interest Company (CIC), which has led to Norfolk Street Arts.

Vin said: “The Enterprise Place played a key role in helping us through the extensive paperwork needed to start up the CIC. It was challenging and they provided the support we needed, at the time we needed it.”

Now it is Vin who is supporting other artists when it comes to applying for grants and funding. His support and expertise allows them to keep working and ensures Sunderland and the North East remains at the centre of creativity and culture.

He added: “I’d noticed that a lot of artists were unaware just how much support and funding there is which they are entitled to access, while those who were aware of it were struggling to fill out the forms in a way which would ensure success.

“There was also a real need for creative space which quickly became obvious when we launched Norfolk Street Arts. Within the first hour of us launching, 15 of the 17 studios were full – and we are now working at full capacity.

"It’s an exciting time we have PhD students, MA graduates, self-taught, grass-roots artists, all using the studios.”

Beryl Graham, Professor of New Media Art at the University of Sunderland, said: "It was great to visit Vin at the studios and see such a thriving hub in Sunderland.

“I'm very proud of him, and of our other alumni now working in the arts from Penrith to Ohio."

Norfolk Street Arts has been supported by MBC Arts Wellbeing, Media Savvy and Sunderland Culture.

Rebecca Ball, Creative Director of Sunderland Culture, sai the work Vin and his colleagues are doing to build a vibrant hub for artists in Sunderland City Centre is really exciting.

She said: "We are delighted that Sunderland Culture has been able to support many artists to present their work at Mackie's Corner. These sorts of developments are vital in encouraging more creative graduates to stay and develop their careers here in Sunderland."