Leave your mark at city landmark with Sunderland Empire seat dedication scheme

Well-known faces, actress Scarlett Moffatt, singer Marty Longstaff and footballer Jill Scott, are the first to be part of a new scheme which gives people the chance to leave their mark at Sunderland Empire.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 4:45 am
Updated Monday, 27th January 2020, 4:38 pm
Scarlett Moffatt, Jill Scott and Martin Longstaff have been given dedicated seats at Sunderland Empire

The trio are supporting the Sunderland Empire Theatre Trust as part of the trust’s new Seat Dedication scheme, which means people can buy an engraved brass plaque with their own personal message on their chosen seat, with funds supporting the trust’s charity work.

The Sunderland Empire Theatre Trust is a registered charity which aims to promote, maintain, improve and advance education – particularly by the production of educational plays and the encouragement of the arts – and it’s hoped the scheme will allow it to deliver even more projects in the community.

Scarlett Moffatt, who recently starred as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at the Sunderland Empire, says she was thrilled to receive a plaque at the theatre where she regularly attends shows.

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Martin Longstaff dedicated seat plaque at Sunderland Empire

She said “Since I was about six years old this is the theatre that we have always come to watch panto. It was a massive thing because I didn’t normally get to come to the theatre, but it is so grand.

“Especially when you are a kid you feel like you are in an old movie when you come into the Empire and it is so beautiful. There aren’t as many opportunities in the North for kids and I think this is something where we can really create some.

“My plaque says ‘If you can dream it you can do it’ because I have just finished playing the Fairy Godmother who creates magic and I feel like by getting on that stage I am creating magical memories for people.”

Martin Longstaff, aka The Lake Poets, is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from East Herrington. His plaque features a line from his Shipyards song, which appeared on Netflix series Sunderland ‘til I Die.

Jill Scott dedicated seat plaque at Sunderland Empire

Marty said “I have been coming to the Empire all my life. For the last six months I have been working here as part of the creative learning team, which the trust helps to support with funding. I want to keep my support going and raise awareness of the work that the team here does.”

Sunderland-born Jill Scott has proved a lioness legend playing for England.

Jill, who was recently awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours, said: “I remember dancing here when I was at school as an 11/12 year old and that was my first experience of the Empire.

“I think that for young children it’s fantastic for them to have the opportunity to come to a place like this. I choose to support it so that it will always be accessible. I am very honoured to have my name on a plaque here.”

Scarlett Moffatt dedicated seat plaque at Sunderland Empire

Zoe Hull, Sunderland Empire Theatre Trust trustee, said: “A seat would make an ideal present for a loved one, for a special birthday or as a memorial for a loved one, who spent happy times at the theatre.

“In recognition of your donation, an engraved brass plaque will be placed on the back of your seat and you, or the person you have named the seat for, will receive a commemorative certificate.”

*Prices start from £125 for a seat dedication and can be paid in instalments. For more information visit