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Sunderland's new creative regeneration

Sunderland's new creative quarter: courtesy -

Arts leader, Rebecca Ball, who led Sunderland City Council's bid for the 2021 City of Culture, is speaking at our Art Investment and Cities Forum on 25th January 2018 at RIBA, London. Please see her profile below.

The city has been growing its cultural offer confidently over the last few years creating a thriving music scene but there are also plans to regenerate parts of Sunderland's coastal area too.

Award-winning architect, Jason Flanagan, has been chosen to lead the work on a new music and performing arts venue in the heart of the historic area in the city. Jason was behind the iconic Sage building in Gateshead and is currently leading the ready-to-assemble Wembley Theatre scheme.

Last February 2017, £2.4 million of Heritage Lottery Funding was agreed, to transform Sunderland's first dedicated fire station to house a major new venue for music, dance and drama.

In addition, Arts Council England, awarded a further £6 miilion grant to the Sunderland Music Arts and Culture Trust (MAC) towards the cost of building a multi-use auditorium at Garden Place and Dun Cow Street, adjacent to the fire station, due to open in 2019. There will also be an outdoor stage and space for performance at the rear of the fire station.

The London based architectural firm, Flanagan Lawrence, has also suggested potential additional developments including recording spaces and offices for start-up digital businesses, a specialist Museum for Sunderland and regional art gallery.

Andrew Burnett, of Buckley Burnett, Project Directors for the MAC Quarter said: ' The auditorium is another huge step in the regeneration of Sunderland'.

John Mowbray, Chair of the MAC Trust, stated: 'It will be a game-changer in terms of the cultural offer the city will be able to deliver...It shows (Arts Council England) recognises the significant changes in arts and culture that are happening in the city and shares our ambition for Sunderland.

Hear what Rebecca Ball, Director of Sunderland 2021 UK City of Culture bid, has to say at Future Cities Forum in January about the process of going through the competition and how Sunderland is creating a new and vibrant creative scene.

Rebecca was well placed to lead the recent bid as prior to this, she was Director of The Cultural Spring, Sunderland and South Tyneside's Creative People and Places programme, which commissioned, developed and produced a number of award-winning arts projects.

Rebecca has also worked for The Place in London, South East Dance and North East-based theatre company, ZENDEH. She has worked for Arts Council England, becoming Director of Arts for the South East in 2010 where she led on the development of the region's Cultural Olympiad programmes,

She will be joined by nationally renowned Sunderland artist Simon Watkinson who has been commissioned by developer Igloo to help regenerate the seafront at Seaburn. He will lead on designs for public realm landscaping, creating spaces that will appeal to residents and visitors of all ages. Local residents were involved in Simon's appointment because of his sensitive approach to the history of the seaside location. The plans will involve a mixed use development including cafes and shops.

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