JULIE ELLIOTT: Looking forward to a wealth of opportunities in our city
The last 18 months has been difficult for many industries – but with venues forced to close, gigs cancelled and galleries shut, the cultural and creative industries have not just seen their work ground to a halt, but the stop and start nature of government restrictions has meant it has been impossible to plan ahead.
In Sunderland we are lucky to have such a varied creative industry. We have leading artists and musicians, incredible venues and a wonderful community which brings people in, and gets people involved.
A central pillar of this cultural community is the spectacular Grade 2 listed Sunderland Empire theatre. Celebrating its 114th Birthday, the Empire has been a shining light in the city since its opening, and it continues to lead the way.
There is nothing like a live audience, and there are few places better than the Empire to go to for a night out.
Additionally, although we may only see the wonderful actors and performers that take to its stage, and that will retake the stage soon, there are also those who are responsible for the tech, the sound, the lighting, those at the front of house, in hospitality, and in security.
Every single role is imperative to the operation of the theatre and the industry as a whole, and each one opens people up to different careers.
The Empire, and the local creative sector as a whole, has started the careers of so many in a range of different professions.
And whilst the cultural benefit that the creative sector brings to the city is huge, so too is the economic benefit.
In addition to those employed directly by the theatre and those who gain the vital skills that they can then transfer into other industries, the shows and the performances bring people into the city centre.
I am, like so many of us, looking forward to a return to lively streets and a vibrant nightlife that for the last 18 months has been what many of us have missed so much, and the events planned by the Empire cannot be missed.
As the country opens back up again, and whilst we redouble our efforts at doing what we can to keep each other safe by taking necessary precautions, and taking the opportunity to get the vaccine when it is offered, we have a wealth of opportunities to look forward to in Sunderland.