Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PS6m Funding Boost for Landmark Culture Venue

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PS6m Funding Boost for Landmark Culture Venue

Article excerpt

Byline: Sean Seddon Sunderland Reporter sean.seddon@trinitymirror.com @seddonnews

ANEW state-of-the-art venue in Sunderland is on course for a 2019 opening after receiving a PS6m funding boost.

The cash from Arts Council England covers almost three quarters of the total PS8.2m bill for the development.

As reported this week, council bosses have already given the nod to planning proposals for the venue near the Keel Square area of the city.

The venue will provide seating for more than 400 people and accommodate as many as 750 when standing. There will also be an outdoor stage and open-area music and performance space to the rear of the redeveloped Fire Station.

Ross Millard, a Sunderland musician who is a member of the Futureheads and Frankie and the Heartstrings, was delighted by the announcement.

He said: "The music scene has always been really healthy in this city and a brand new venue of this size will be a great way to support our local musicians and performers.

"It will also allow Sunderland to attract top touring musicians, too, which is a massive boost."

Plans for the venue are parts of a wider scheme for the area drawn up by the MAC Trust, an organisation which is driving regeneration by attracting investment into the city's cultural sector.

The MAC Trust have a long-term goal of turning land and buildings around Keel Square into a vibrant hub for arts and culture.

Phase 1 of their masterplan was the renovation of The Dun Cow pub, which is now open.

Phase 2, a plan to transform The Old Fire Station into an art centre, is already well under way too, while Newcastle's Dance City has announced plans to move in and launch a Sunderland site.

Other tenants will include the Live Theatre, a restaurant and cafe and a heritage centre.

John Mowbray, Chair of the MAC Trust, said: "We're obviously thrilled that Arts Council has chosen to support Sunderland with the new auditorium and believe it will have a transformational effect on the city's arts and culture sector. …

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