New head of performance at Sunderland Culture group speaks of plans for the future

Helen Green has been appointed as head of programming at Sunderland Culture
Helen Green has been appointed as head of programming at Sunderland Culture
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A leading figure in Wearside’s burgeoning cultural sector has taken on a new role at the organisation responsible for building on the momentum created by Sunderland’s bid to become City of Culture.

Helen Green, who was appointed director of The Fire Station last year having previously been creative director at Arts Centre Washington, has moved into the role of Sunderland Culture’s new head of performance.

Formally launched earlier this month by Sunderland Council, the University of Sunderland and the MAC Trust, Sunderland Culture will strategically lead cultural venues, including The Fire Station, owned by its partners and develop and deliver large-scale cultural projects.

It has National Portfolio Organisation status, which means it receives regular funding from Arts Council England.

Helen is the organisation’s third appointment after Keith Merrin was confirmed Sunderland Culture’s chief executive and Rebecca Ball its creative director.

“It’s an exciting role, a totally new challenge and a great opportunity at an important time in Sunderland’s cultural development,” explained Helen.

“I’ll be responsible for the strategic overview of performing arts across the city at Sunderland Culture’s venues, including The Fire Station and Arts Centre Washington (ACW),” she added.

Helen was given the role of director of The Fire Station early last year and as well as fulfilling that role has more recently been working on producing and delivering an arts and culture programme for the visit of the Tall Ships in July.

“My focus at the moment is on delivering the best possible programme to thrill local and national audiences coming to Sunderland to enjoy the spectacle of the Tall Ships. But I’m starting to think about programming exciting, challenging and appropriate performances for Sunderland Culture’s venues. I’d also like to build on the success of Sunderland Stages by looking to programme performances into places you wouldn’t normally associate with the arts,” said Helen.

“I also have ambitions to find the resources needed to commission work in the city, so we can not only bring the very best artists and performers into Sunderland, but we can also develop and promote local artistic talent. I think developing, encouraging and allowing local talent to grow will be a big part of my role,” she explained.

Helen’s role will also include planning the opening season of Sunderland’s new auditorium, once it’s complete. Work on the new 450-seater auditorium adjacent to The Fire Station is due to start later this year, with curtain up on the opening night being late next year or early 2020.