Sunderland bid for ACE cash

City wants new arts auditorium

Sunderland is to bid for £6m of Arts Council England support for a new city centre auditorium.

The new £8.2m entertainment venue is the latest phase of the city’s ambitious plan to create a cultural quarter and follows the £3m transformation of the old fire station. The new venue would be able to accommodate up to 450 people seated and more than 700 standing.

The bid is led by Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, the charity which aims to regenerate the city through culture. The Trust received an initial development grant of £250,000 from ACE earlier this year. MAC is also working with the Sunderland Cultural partnership on the city’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021.

Work on the fire station, built in 1907, has begun, following a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £2.5m and is due to open in autumn 2017.

Helen Green, formerly of Arts Centre Washington, has been appointed to run the Fire Station and the new auditorium, which will also feature two new dance studios youth theatre and creative writing workshops in collaboration with dance City Newcastle and Live Theatre.  

Mac Trust chair Paul Callaghan said: “Our ambitious plan is to transform one of the city’s most historic sectors into an energetic and vibrant area where people will want to come to enjoy an affordable and exciting range of arts and culture.

 “We need to show ambition but we also need to show we have the assets in place to deliver a City of Culture programme and both the Fire Station and the auditorium would certainly help in that regard.”


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