Sunderland City of Culture: Launch events revealed

Blue's Duncan James with Priscilla Queen of the Desert gumbies Adam Lyons and Martin Harding at the Sunderland Empire.
Blue's Duncan James with Priscilla Queen of the Desert gumbies Adam Lyons and Martin Harding at the Sunderland Empire.
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Sunderland is set for a vibrant awakening as it bids to become the UK’s City of Culture 2021.

Everyone from graphic artists to independent musicians will be joining creative forces in a bid to take the title.

The Red Arrows at the Sunderland International Airshow.

The Red Arrows at the Sunderland International Airshow.

The city has announced plans for a three-day programme designed to celebrate the unique culture surging through the streets, galleries, schools, businesses and venues of Sunderland.

It will run from Friday, September 18 to Sunday, September 20.

The line-up, which will be centred around the newly-developed Keel Square, includes a packed schedule of activities to officially mark the city’s intent to bid for the coveted national prize, and the whole city is invited to be part of the free event.

A consortium of committed city organisations will develop Sunderland’s bid for the City of Culture title, including the Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, the organisation that has led on the planning of the launch event.

We hope everyone will join with us in celebrating our fantastic city throughout this bidding process over the coming months.

Paul Callaghan, chair of the MAC Trust

Paul Callaghan, chair of the MAC Trust, said: “The launch event will set the tone for Sunderland City of Culture Bid, and will be a huge celebration of our city and all that makes it special – from the welcome of our people, to our exciting independent music scene, from the architecture unique to our city, to the artists and photographers so skilled at capturing our rich heritage.

“The arts and culture scene has provided the city’s creative heartbeat for generations – it was once home to Venerable Bede, it remains the glass making capital of the country, it is a city that gave the world light – the birthplace of Joseph Swan. And today, it remains a city that is a shining light of warmth – a city that moves to its own beat.”

He added: “We really do believe in our ability to win the City of Culture status, but we equally recognise that being part of the process is something that will deliver huge benefits to Sunderland.

“Cities that throw their hat into the ring benefit immensely, and this launch event is the start for us to embark on a learning curve that will open everyone’s eyes to just what Sunderland was, is and is aiming to become.

Sunderland International Airshow

Sunderland International Airshow

“We hope everyone will join with us in celebrating our fantastic city throughout this bidding process over the coming months.”

The launch will see a bumper line-up of entertainment including winners of Gentoo community competition Gen Factor, SK Dance and vocalist Sophie Ann Robson.

Other entertainment includes a performance from University of Sunderland students and from Sage Gateshead, a newly-commissioned piece from Theatre Space NE, a circus street performer, local band Frankie and the Heartstrings, and a City of Culture Film that shows community groups and everyday people talking about what Sunderland means to them.

Organisers are keen that people across the city get behind the event to show their support for Sunderland’s bid.

The City of Culture 2021 launch event marks the start of the process of Sunderland compiling its bid to be crowned in the contest, which runs every four years.

As well as local acts, the cast of the monster hit Shrek The Musical will be taking over Keel Square to open the launch day’s performances with a very special production ahead of its much-anticipated visit to the Sunderland Empire this November.

The Empire is currently home to Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which stars Blue’s Duncan James.

Twitter: @vickinewmanjp