Sunderland’s cultural campaign has received a £2million cash boost from arts leaders to further the city’s attractions.
The funding has been awarded by the Arts Council England to Sunderland Culture, a company set up to advance Wearside’s efforts.
The team say the grant and its National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status will see money ploughed into the city’s cultural facilities, with the funding representing a significant increase in support from the organisation to the city.
It is the second investment announcement today for Sunderland, which has also won a further £175,000 to create a new exhibition space for the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art at the University of Sunderland’s National Glass Centre.
The funding will mean the gallery – which is now part of Sunderland University – moves from its previous base in the city library.
Keith Merrin, chief executive of Sunderland Culture, said: “This is the second occasion we have had cause to celebrate, having already secured £1.25million from the Great Places fund, which will really elevate the city’s reputation as a hotbed for creative talent.
There really is a sense in Sunderland that we are building towards a future in which culture will be at the absolute heart of the city’s economic and social development.Keith Merrin
“There really is a sense in Sunderland that we are building towards a future in which culture will be at the absolute heart of the city’s economic and social development.
“We are becoming a poster child for how arts can reinvigorate a city and bring about hugely positive change, and funding support like this really will help us to further the momentum we have already established.”
The funding, which will cover a four-year period, is another welcome boost to Sunderland’s UK City of Culture Bid, which will assess the city’s capacity to deliver a year-long programme capable of bringing about major regeneration.
Mr Merrin added: “Win or lose, I think we can now be confident that the future for the city is very bright, and that culture will be front and centre in the regeneration of Sunderland.
“The impact of the City of Culture competition really will leave a lasting legacy.”
Graeme Thompson, who is chairman of Sunderland Culture, said: “This is a tremendous achievement for our city, and for an organisation that – despite its relative infancy – is already bringing about a genuine step change in the way we are driving culture-led regeneration.
“Sunderland has a rich cultural story, and venues of national and international significance. This recognition from Arts Council England means we are finally able to start punching our weight in collaboration with partners across the city.”
Sunderland Culture was formed as a partnership between the Music Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, Sunderland City Council and the University of Sunderland to deliver major projects such as the City of Culture bid and bring together the main cultural venues of the partners.
An announcement is expected from the Department of Culture Media and Sport over the next few days about whether Sunderland’s City of Culture bid has been shortlisted to go through to the next stage of the competition.