Empty Southwick landmark brought back to life as creative centre - complete with carnival-themed cafe

An empty landmark building in Southwick has been brought back to life as a creative centre.

Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 2:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th February 2020, 7:22 pm
The Creative Seed has relocated into the old St Hilda's in Southwick, Sunderland. Pictured is Sandy Harris.

North East carnival arts company The Creative Seed has taken over the former St Hilda’s Parish Centre, in The Kings Road – previously the area’s labour exchange – and created a new arts centre.

The company has a national reputation for staging carnival parades and special events and its latest acquisition comes shortly after it took over St Hilda’s Pit Head in South Shields, which is also now being used as a creative and arts space.

The centre in Southwick – which will officially open on March 27 – has been renamed Carnival House and will host a range of workshops, activities and a full programme of classes for all ages, along with being available for private hire for celebrations, events and business meetings.

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The Creative Seed is opening in St Hilda's Parish Centre in Southwick, Sunderland. It will house an art centre and cafe.

The new venue also boasts a carnival-themed café, which will be open to the local community and visitors from further afield.

“The transformation of the building is spectacular and we’re sure everyone that sees it will be blown away and realise what a huge asset this is to the area,” said Sandy Harris, artistic director at The Creative Seed.

“We have some amazingly ambitious plans and we’re offering a mixed programme of workshops and events so there will be something for everyone.”

The launch of Carnival House is the latest success story for The Creative Seed, which has worked extensively with organisations across the region and beyond.

This includes being the driving creative force behind South Tyneside Council’s annual summer festival parade and creating the community parade for Sunderland’s Halloween Lights Out festival last year.

“Having some incredible spaces means that we can continue to grow what we do and what we can offer to the local community,” said Sandy.

Workshops already planned include needlecraft and glassmaking with a full programme of evening entertainment also currently being planned.

“It’s a very exciting venture for us and hope people will come along and not only be amazed at the transformation but will also see Carnival House as something of real value for the area,” said Sandy.