WEARSIDE MATTERS: Gentoo on the lookout for young talent made in Sunderland

Gentoo is looking for singers, bands, dance acts, choirs, musicians and comedians aged 11 to 18 who live in Sunderland

Wednesday, 25th May 2016, 8:14 am
The contestants at last year's the Genfactor competition. Picture by Dan Aziz Photography

Now in its eighth year, the ‘Genfactor’ competition is organised by housing provider, Gentoo.

The competition aims to open up new opportunities for young talented people.

Since the Genfactor launched in 2009, it has gone from strength to strength.

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It started as an initiative to engage young people and open up new opportunities.

The event was held in local schools – now finalists are performing to an audience of more than 1,000 at Rainton Meadows Arena.

John Craggs, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Gentoo, said: “Sunderland has so much to offer and the Genfactor is a great way to open up new opportunities for young people.

“It has been amazing to see the amount of talent that has come out of Sunderland since the Genfactor was launched.

“Lots of the finalists have performed at other Gentoo events, helped us raise money for charity and visited sheltered schemes, really giving something back to their local community.

“It is great to watch their confidence grow and hear about their achievements since taking part.

“We are proud supporters of the City of Culture Bid 2021 and are sure that some of the talent that has come from the Genfactor will add to the diverse cultural landscape of our city.”

This year’s auditions are being held during the school holidays and the finalists will be announced in September 2016.

The final will be held at Rainton Meadows Arena on Wednesday, October 26.

If you or someone would like to audition they can pop along to one of Gentoo’s open auditions at Bede Tower on Wednesday, June 1, and Friday, June 3, between 10am and 2pm.

This is the last chance for young people to audition for a place in the final of this year’s competition.

For more information contact Ann Donkin on 0191 525 5000. Alternatively, visit gentoogroup.com


Kids of all ages can unleash their inner-action heroes at Roker’s Bede’s Cross, which is being transformed into a hive of family friendly fun, this coming Bank Holiday weekend.

The event which will be delivered by Sunderland Live on behalf of Sunderland City Council is funded by The Coastal Community Fund.

A packed programme of activities will see the grassland close to Roker Park transformed into a field full of family fun, where visitors can pit their strength against a climbing wall, tackle an inflatable assault course, or for the more sedate, have their face painted or listen to storytelling.

Among the weird and wonderful activities on offer is an inflatable assault course as well as a surf-rider, allowing little ones to test out their balancing skills as they ride the waves, and a ‘bubbleologist’ who will be amazing the whole family with giant bubble displays that are set to surprise and delight.

Other attractions at the event will include Time Bandits, a professional team of historical costumed interpreters and re-enactors who are dedicated to bring history to life in the North East and beyond.

The event takes place across Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30, between 10am and 4pm on both days.

Alison McDonough, chief executive of Sunderland Live, said: “We know that families are always looking for new and exciting ways to enjoy their Bank Holiday weekend, so we wanted to create something really unique, with a plethora of things to do, that will fill hours of time and provide a one-stop-shop for Bank Holiday fun.

“The programme is absolutely packed, with craft stalls, messy play and some really fast-paced activities from the armed forces. And what better place than close to our seafront, which is always popular in the warmer months.”

Admission is open to anyone, and most of the activities on offer are free.

It is expected that as many as 2,000 people will attend the event over the course of the Bank Holiday weekend.

“The event caters for everyone. From tots, who will be entertained by storytellers, to teenagers, who will be able to watch jaw-dropping performances from a 3SIXTY Cycle Display Team, who will be performing some amazing BMX stunts on the Sunday.

“We have tried to develop a programme that appeals to families with children of all ages, and the fact that most of the activities are free means we’re sure it will prove a big success with those looking for something fun to do over the extended weekend.”

To find out more about the event, visit www.sunderlandlive.co.uk. Booking is not necessary.