Case study

Changing lives: A Cultural Spring

30 Mar 2017

In mid-2012, a consortium of organisations – the University of Sunderland, the Sunderland Music, Arts & Culture (MAC) Trust and The Customs House Trust – came together to create a ten-year vision to radically change the way that people in Sunderland and South Tyneside consume, experience, influence and make excellent art.

In June 2013 the consortium, led by the University of Sunderland, was awarded £2m from Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places programme to deliver an exciting and ambitious creative programme between January 2014 and December 2016. In late 2016, The Cultural Spring secured a further £1m funding from the Arts Council to deliver an exciting and change-making programme over a further three years to December 2019. The Cultural Spring is making a real difference for local communities, providing the opportunity for residents, businesses, schools and colleges, artists, cultural organisations and of course students to celebrate, participate in, and create inspiring art and culture in South Tyneside and Sunderland.

It is the only project in the Creating People and Places programme to be led by a university and is considered to be one of the most successful and impactful.

The Cultural Spring set about creating change locally and regionally, and to create a programme recognised as a national exemplar. 

The journey is ongoing, but some of the original ideas, thoughts and plans have been tested, refined and developed over the last three years. The core vision remains the same: to establish a new cultural ecology and a new cultural calendar for Sunderland and South Tyneside that opens doors to all art forms, encourages everyone to get involved, provides opportunities for people to enjoy new experiences, discover new passions, and learn new skills. By co-developing a rich programme and catalysing previously untapped partnerships and opportunities, the Cultural Spring will consciously seek to instil this long-term vision and deliver a sustainable legacy.