Plans for a new performing arts venue in Sunderland have hit the right note with Echo readers.
Arts Council England has awarded Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust a £6million grant through the National Lottery towards the cost of an £8.2million new auditorium next to the old Fire Station in High Street West.
The idea of a new base for music, dance, drama and spoken word performances was a big hit with the visitors to the Echo’s Facebook page - but enthusiasm for the proposed design was less unanimous.
Brett David Redmayne is delighted with the Mac Trust’s idea of creating a new cultural quarter for the city: “Brilliant news for Sunderland, hopefully this area will become a real area of culture,” he wrote.
Seamus McMarrs was looking forward to attracting more music to the city: “Absolutely about time, town has been craving somewhere to attract bands here for decades now,” he said.
And Paul Brown hoped the scheme could prove a catalyst for redevelopment of the area around the Empire and Londonderry.
Brilliant news for Sunderland, hopefully this area will become a real area of culture,Brett David Redmayne
“About time we had something like this, bring that part of the city back to life,” he said.
Anna Hargrave was all in favour of the auditorium plan, but less impressed with the design, writing: “Great idea but don’t like the look of the building - looks like another 1960’s box.
“Why don’t we design something in keeping with the old fire station which will be next door? If the Sage designer is the architect for the auditorium, why not get him to be creative with the outside too - Sage building is stunning - this is not.”
Deb Edmundson said the design did not fit in with the area: “Obviously no idea of design! It’s going to be next to old fire station, Empire Theatre and Dun Cow pub. Should be in keeping with surrounding buildings.”
Kevin Gibson made the point that the design team’s hands may have been tied: “The fire station is listed, depends on the conditions of the planning permission but you’re not always allowed to make new buildings look like old,” he said.
And Phil Dorian felt the design would work well in contrast to its surroundings: “The building is a modern addition and should not take anything away from the historic architecture,” he said.