Jesus on shipping containers to launch Sunderland’s ‘Cultural Spring’

A similar event, "The Preston Passion," performed at Preston bus station.
A similar event, "The Preston Passion," performed at Preston bus station.
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A MULTIMILLION-pound arts project designed to bring cultural events to the streets of Sunderland will be launched with a spectacular performance this Easter.

The three-year Cultural Spring project will see communities working with local, national and international artists and producers on a series of ‘transformational’ arts events.

The scheme, which won £2million from the Arts Council, is being led in the city by Sunderland University, working with the newly-formed Music and Culture Trust (MAC) in Sunderland.

One of the key themes of The Cultural Spring is to produce new work on post-war housing estates where many of the streets are named after great artists and writers of the past, which includes Shakespeare Street, Joyce Terrace and Byron Road.

The scheme will also take place in South Tyneside and today the Echo can announce the project will be launched at The Great North Passion, a live broadcast of the last moments of Jesus’ life on BBC 1 on Good Friday, April 18.

The one-hour performance will be the channel’s flagship Easter broadcast and will be held at Bents Park, South Shields.

Each year the Passion is broadcast from a different location in the UK, with past events including Brighton and Preston.

Cultural Spring chairman Graeme Thompson, Sunderland University’s Dean of the faculty of Arts, Design and Media, said: “The Cultural Spring was set up to bring new arts and cultural opportunities to communities across Sunderland and South Shields.

“And these opportunities don’t come much more exciting than our partnership with the BBC to stage The Great North Passion.

“The event will provide a spectacular launchpad for our project and we’re really grateful to South Tyneside Council for their amazing help and 
support. We look forward to working with BBC colleagues to create a most memorable Easter spectacle and we hope the interest and momentum created by the Passion will continue throughout the Cultural Spring’s three years.”

The Great North Passion will use shipping containers as the last stations of the cross, which would stand as high as St Paul’s Cathedral if stacked one on top of another.

The containers will be brought together in Bents Park to create a huge, cross-shaped installation, helping worshippers and viewers to better understand The Passion, including Christ’s trial, suffering and eventual death.

Other partners involved in The Cultural Spring are Sunderland City Council, the Customs House, South Shields, and South Tyneside Council.

Ambassadors for the project include film producer Lord David Puttnam and Barry Hyde, lead singer of The Futureheads.

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