Passionate people are key to Sunderland city of culture bid

Community champion Melanie McDonald believes Sunderland's passionate people could give it the edge as it bids to be UK City of Culture 2021.

Melanie, 63, lives in Washington, but was born and brought up in New Herrington.

Melanie McDonald.

Melanie McDonald.

She's a passionate Sunderland AFC supporter who works part-time as a consultant for Edexcel.

Today, with 14 days to go until the UK City of Culture final bid has to be submitted, she explained why she has become a culture champion.

Melanie thinks a successful bid would benefit all of Wearside and beyond.

“There’s no doubt that if Sunderland was City of Culture, places like Washington, Seaham, Easington and places in the old coalfield would all benefit," she said.

“We deserve to win the title because people here are so passionate, and the title would have such a dramatic impact here in terms of investment. Sunderland would be totally transformed.

“As someone who travels round the country, I see things of interest in other places and think 'wouldn’t they be great in Sunderland'?' If we win the bid this might be possible.

“I’m really excited by the prospect of the City of Culture artistic programme.

"I love most things on a live stage and am into music and I also love drama. It would be so good to see the very best performers right here.”

Sunderland is up against Coventry, Paisley, Swansea and Stoke as it bids to be named UK City of Culture.

A successful bid would put the city firmly into the cultural spotlight, attracting millions of pounds into the local economy through investment in the arts and an increase in visitors and jobs.

It would kick-start a four-year period of growth, innovation and creativity and culminate in a year of exciting cultural and artistic events.

Final second-round bids must be submitted by September 29, and the successful city will be announced in Hull, the current UK City of Culture, in December.