How this Sunderland-based business brings joy to hundreds of children

Fiona Simpson (left) and Gillian Seales (right) at ARTventurers.
Fiona Simpson (left) and Gillian Seales (right) at ARTventurers.

Life is looking bright - and very colourful - for an expanding business with its base in Sunderland.

ARTventurers becomes the latest entry in this year’s Portfolio Awards and it’s all systems go for the company founded by Fiona Simpson.

Fiona Simpson (left) and Gillian Seales (right) at ARTventurers.

Fiona Simpson (left) and Gillian Seales (right) at ARTventurers.

Just six years after Fiona began her first class in Ashbrooke, it now has 28 branches including one in the USA, and hundreds of children attending classes each week.

ARTventurers run colourful, creative art classes for babies, toddlers and children. They are centred on children’s learning and development through art and creative play.

Just as importantly, they provide a safe, social environment for children and adults to explore and create messy memories together.

Fiona said: “This year so far has been an amazing year for ARTventurers. We moved into a new Head Office space at St Peters Gate, we’ve got some exciting brand partnerships in place, we have some brilliant new franchisees and our proudest moment was winning two fantastic awards in the Working Mums Top Franchise Awards 2017.

Art has SO many benefits in terms of children’s learning and development but it’s also the memories made together that are invaluable

Fiona Simpson

“In the past year we’ve also developed opportunities for franchisees who are interested in the business development side of things to progress their careers, taking on additional roles and responsibilities within the business, as well as developing and starting to deliver an art based programme for even younger babies aged 3 to 6 months.”

Now’s your chance to put yourself in the running for this year’s competition.

State which category your nomination applies to from the list below and describe the reasons for your nomination. Do it in no more than 300 words.

Also include the address of your chosen nomination and provide details on how we can contact the company – such as their email and a phone number. Post your nomination to: Lynn Wild, Alexander House, Second Floor, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, DH4 5RA. Alternatively, you can email lynn.wild@jpress.co.uk.

Make it Sunderland is again our headline sponsor, and will sponsor our overall Business of the Year Award, as well as a Lifetime Achievement award, which is in the sponsor’s gift.

Make It Sunderland is also backing the contribution social enterprises make to the city in the Social Enterprise Award. Other sponsors are Northumbrian Water, TTR Barnes, BIC, Sunderland BID, The Bridges, Sunderland College, Wessington Dental, Gentoo, Station Taxis, Creo, The Fans Museum, Stagecoach North East and JB Skills Training.

The deadline for entries is Friday, September 8. After that, the judges draw up a shortlist. Then it is on to the grand final at the Stadium of Light, on Thursday, October 26.

There’s plenty of time for you to put forward your favourites – get nominating!

The categories:

Small Business of the Year

Best Green Business Award

Medium Business of the Year

Best Training Provider

Large Business of the Year

Exporter of the Year

Employer of the Year

Leisure Award

Apprentice/Trainee of the Year

City Centre Business of the Year

Technology of the Year

Creative Industries Award

New Business of the Year

Sole Trader Award

Special Community Award

Best Age Friendly Business

Social Enterprise Award

Corporate Social Responsibility Award