Our First Three Years



Our First Three Years

The Cultural Spring Phase One

January 2014 - December 2016

In 2012 our three founding partners created

a ten-year vision to fundamentally change

the way the people of South Tyneside and

Sunderland consumed, experienced and made

excellent art.


03 Introduction

04 Welcome from

Project Director

Emma Horsman

05 How our

communities have

helped shape

The Cultural Spring

06-09 2014: Our first year;

Great North

Passion, Summer

Streets, Street Art

Heroes, Bring the


10-13 2015: Year Two;

RUSH, Summer

Streets, Inventors!

and Mr Drayton’s

Human Jukebox

14-17 2016: Year Three;

A Great Night

Out, Summer

Streets and


18-22 Our community


Our Your Art


Research and


opportunities and

our Go and See


23 The future of The

Cultural Spring

Our consortium partners –

the University of Sunderland,

the Sunderland Music, Arts

and Culture (MAC) Trust and

The Customs House in South

Shields – then submitted

a joint bid to Arts Council

England’s Creative People

and Places (CPP) programme

to fund an ambitious project

to increase engagement and

participation in the arts in

the two boroughs.

The CPP fund focuses

investment in parts of the

country where people’s

involvement in the arts is

below the national average.

In June 2013, The Cultural

Spring was awarded £2m

to fund a project between

January 2014 and December


The project chose ten wards

- five in south South Tyneside

and five in north Sunderland

– to focus on: Castletown,

Red House, Southwick,

Fulwell and Roker/St Peter’s

wards in Sunderland ; in

South Tyneside our target

wards were Biddick Hall and

All Saints, Boldon Colliery,

Cleadon and East Boldon,

Whitburn and Marsden and


Four main aims were


> Increase arts participation

in our wards

> Enable more excellent art

to happen in our wards

> Create a lasting social

and cultural legacy for

Sunderland and South


> Reflect and share learning

However, from the beginning

our guiding principle has

been that we will not ‘do’

arts and culture to our local

communities. We’ve always

been passionate about talking

to our local communities

and understanding what

they want to see in their

neighbourhoods. Our arts

and culture will be delivered

with them, alongside them –

and by them.

What we want to leave behind

is a lasting, meaningful and

sustainable legacy. Not just

a marked shift in the profile

of and engagement with arts

activity in South Tyneside and

Sunderland, but improved

cultural infrastructures and

communities who value the

arts, and contain individuals

or groups which have the

necessary skills and drive to

further provision in their area.



workshops in

Year 1

02 03

The Cultural Spring was formed through the

ambition and drive of many people. The

project presented an opportunity to create art

for and with local people on their own terms.

During the past three years we have tested

things out and learned from everything we’ve

done to ensure that what people participate in

is of the very best quality.

We’re a small team,

with great colleagues

Your Cultural Spring

Our guiding principle has

always been to work with

communities in choosing what

programmes, commissions and

projects will be delivered on

our wards. So we appointed

Community Champions, a

network of people passionate

about the arts in their local

community and who have

helped shape the project over

the last three years.

We have met and worked

with residents (many of

whom have never taken

part in an arts activity)

to support them to join

a regular workshop

programme, perform on

stage alongside professional

companies and start to lead

their own sessions. With

a little bit of support from

The Cultural Spring people

have taken their enjoyment

in the direction that they

wanted to – this has led to

the creation of numerous

groups, including Hylton

Ukes, Whitburn Singers, the

GUB Club, The Rushettes

and numerous memorable


I’m personally passionate that

everyone has an opportunity

to take part in the arts if

they want to, whichever

art form that may be, and

that they get to work with

professional artists based

locally, regionally, nationally

and internationally. I do

think programmes such as

Creative People and Places

help to change the way the

arts are seen and delivered,

and I am keen to see what

the next three years holds.

With communities and artists

working in partnership to

create relevant, memorable

and special events and


We’re a small team, with

great colleagues who support

us. We would like to think

we serve the communities

engaged in the project well

and we’ve received great

Press and PR during the past

three years as well as some

lovely accolades, including

three Journal Culture Awards

in 2015 for Great North

Passion and Summer Streets;

two WOW Awards for our

Contribution to Culture and

Summer Streets in 2015 and

in 2016 a Leading Cultural

Destinations award for

Cultural Activation in local

communities. We could not

have done this without the

buy in and enthusiasm of

the local communities who

engage with us.

We’re really looking forward to

the next three years. Whether

you’re a resident looking

to get involved, an artist or

an organisation wanting to

engage with us, our door is

always open. We would love

to hear from you. Or if you’ve

already taken part in a Cultural

Spring event or programme,

we very much look forward to

seeing you again.

Emma Horsman

Project Director



“I’m personally passionate that

everyone has an opportunity to

take part in the arts if they want to,

whichever art form that may be.”

We wanted as many people

in our neighbourhoods to

be involved as possible –

whether it be by spreading

the word about Cultural

Spring projects; helping

us to decide what art we

programme; taking the lead

in developing new activities;

helping to advocate for

more arts activity locally;

taking part in cultural trips

to theatres galleries and

festivals across the North

East, or getting involved

in local training about

managing arts projects.

Our Community Champions

and others from within

our wards have played a

leading role in selection

panels choosing the winners

of our seasonal large-scale


One of our Community

Champions is LucyAnne

Mackie, who has thoroughly

enjoyed the experience:

“Being involved with the

Cultural Spring has been such

a positive experience for me

in many ways. Initially it was a

pleasure to become absorbed

in lots of different art and

music taster sessions, it really

reminded me how much I

enjoyed both the creative

input as well as getting

together with like-minded

people in the community.

“Before long I realised that I

was watching other people

as well as myself grow in

confidence under the gentle

and reassuring guidance

of the artists leading the


“It was a completely

unexpected pleasure to be

invited on to the selection

panel for meeting and

interviewing potential artists

for upcoming events. It was

an opportunity to observe

both the talent being sourced

and their approach to

involving the community.

It was good to know that

community input is important

to The Cultural Spring and

that there is continuing

provision for representation.”

We have also had

tremendous support for our

volunteer programme which

has enabled many people

to work with us on our live,

outdoor events. For instance,

our volunteers worked with

the BBC as stage managers

on The Great North Passion.

“Before long I

realised that I

was watching

other people

as well as

myself grow

in confidence

under the

gentle and


guidance of the


04 05


Year One

Great North Passion

April 2014

The Great North Passion

was commissioned by the

BBC’s Religious and Ethics

department and became

The Cultural Spring’s launch

event. It took place on April

18, Good Friday, and was

the BBC’s flagship Easter

programme - broadcast

live at noon by BBC1. The

Great North Passion won

Best Event Tyneside and Best

Overall Event at the 2014

Journal North East Culture


At its peak, 1.3m viewers

watched the broadcast, which

was hosted by Fern Britton.

Viewing figures claimed

more than a third of North

Easterners watching TV at

that time were watching the


The project was the

culmination of six week’s worth

of community engagement.

It brought together more

than 20 artists with 12 local

communities including

schools, churches, community

associations and heritage sites

to explore different themes

of Christ’s Passion - Truth,

Burden, Exhaustion, Loss,

Kindness, Falling, Hope,

Humility, Forgiveness and Self


Twelve red shipping

containers, each representing

an individual theme or

Station of the Cross, were

transformed with a variety of

different interpretive art forms

and placed in Bents Park,

South Shields, forming the

shape of a massive cross.

More than 3,500 people

attended the event and

subsequent weekend

exhibition. Shipping container

content included bespoke

pieces of music, intricate

lighting displays, sculptures,

spray paint murals, poetry

and photography projects.

Rebecca Ball, then Project

Director of the Cultural

Spring, said: “Although the

Passion was held on Good

Friday as part of the Christian

festival of Easter, it was

important for us and the BBC

that this was seen as an interfaith

event that explored the

universality of the Passion’s




watched the


20 artists

12 local


06 07

Street Art Heroes

Autumn 2014



Summer 2014

First held in 2014 Summer

Streets is a celebration of

a rich variety of musical

genres. The free music

festival, hosted in Thompson

Park, Southwick, started

as a day in 2014, but its

popularity led to it becoming

a weekend event for 2015

and 2016.

Creative Director Ross

Millard, singer and guitarist

for The Futureheads and

Frankie and the Heartstrings,

programmes the festival and

aims to introduce audiences

to new types of music as

well as creating a platform

for new and emerging local

talent, and more established,

recognised bands and artists.

Ross’s eclectic programmes

have included rock bands,

jazz musicians, dance groups,

choir groups, bluegrass,

drumming groups, tea dance

bands and opera workshops.

The programmes have also

included opportunities for

people to play an instrument

for the first time through

classes and workshops.

The festival opens with

performers parading through

the streets of Southwick, with

flag wavers and musicians

giving a lively, colourful taste

of the weekend ahead.

In 2014 Summer Streets won

Best Event Sunderland in the

Journal North East Culture


In 2014


Streets won

Best Event

Sunderland in

the Journal

North East



Sunderland has always had

roots in unique and creative

street art. In 2013 as part

of the Bristol Urban Arts

Festival the UpNorth, Upfest

took place in the city.

In the months prior to the

festival taking place Frank

Styles created Two Whites, a

12-metre wide by 12-metre

high butterfly mural created

on the side of a building

located in the city centre.

With a vision to encourage

more of this amazing work

both in Sunderland and South

Tyneside, we launched our

third major commission Street

Art Heroes - inviting 12 artists

from around the world into

20 local locations, creating

30 installations.

Led by artist, creator and

author Garry Hunter, we

brought artists from as far as

Brazil, Australia and Morocco,

Bring the


Winter 2014

Bring the Happy was The

Cultural Spring’s Winter

Tales project that began in

winter 2014. The project

aimed to spread some

happiness on the streets

of our wards, working in

collaboration with Leedsbased

Invisible Flock.

Invisible Flock had previously

run the project across Europe

and further afield, asking

people to place their happy

memories on giant maps of the

cities and towns they live in.

each with their distinct styles

and skills, to the North East

over the course of 80 days

between September and

November, 2014.

Canadian artist Peter Gibson,

aka Roadsworth, created

three of his iconic pavement

paintings, including a beehive

on St Oswald’s playground,

and animal shapes out of

deconstructed African flags in

Park Lane, Sunderland.

Artists Eyez, Artista and Frank

Styles worked in collaboration

to create a giant mural

behind Tesco on Newcastle

Road, Sunderland, citing the

historical importance of the

glass industry.

Meanwhile, Will Alexander

created a huge cardboard

model of Stephenson’s

Rocket; Chewing Gum Man

Ben Wilson drew intricate

portraits on to discarded

Using installations at an

empty shoe shop in South

Shields, the Roker Pods

which toured our wards,

and National Glass Centre

residents of South Shields

and Sunderland were asked

for a happy memory, where

it took place and how happy

it made them feel on a scale

of 1 – 10. These memories

gum and Cityzen Kane made

alien-type structures to adorn

buildings and places in South


Other street artists who

worked with us included Irony,

Alex Senna, L7M, Toothfish,

Artista and Pigment.

were then placed on to an

interactive digital map of the

area forming part of a digital

archive with memories from

around the world.

What emerged from the

project wasn’t just personal

happy memories, but a

glimpse into the stories

that make a town or city.

Memories included first loves,

regrets, births, weddings,

chance encounters and life

changing moments.

The project culminated in

three live shows hosted at the

University of Sunderland’s

North Shore in late February.

The musical performance retold

the collected stories from

hilarious to heart-breaking,

uplifting to upsetting.

08 09


Year Two


Spring 2015

Commissioned by The

Cultural Spring working

in collaboration with

Events International and

Southpaw Dance Company,

RUSH, a mass movement

dance performance, was

inspired by mass protest,

misrepresentation and global

dissatisfaction. The ambitious

project explored 21st

century social and economic

problems faced by people

living in the North East.

Themes such as zero-hour

contracts, Government

cutbacks and child poverty

were explored through an

artistic alternative to antisocial

behaviour and violent


Dance workshops were

held for six months across

The Cultural Spring wards

in preparation for the

large-scale outdoor dance

production, held against the

iconic backdrop of St Hilda’s

Engine Shed in South Shields.

The workshops gave people

the chance to take part in the

one-off, moving performance

and to have their voices heard

and influence the themes

RUSH tackled.

The mass-participation

piece was performed on the

evening of Easter Sunday of

2015. It followed the stories

of three distinct characters: a

zero hours worker; a young

mother, and a homeless man.

More than one hundred

local amateur dancers joined

six dancers from Southpaw

to thrill an audience of

more than 550 people. The

40-minute performance

included coloured dust,

flares, a water cannon and a

video, produced by animation

company Novak, which was

projected on to St Hilda’s

Engine Shed.

Martin Wood had travelled through from Newcastle to see RUSH:

“It was clever, accessible and different. I

loved the John Lennon Working Class Hero

section and thought the bit with dancers and

sleeping bags was beautiful – the lady next

to me was in tears. The pace of the whole

thing, and the energy, was so impressive, I

couldn’t believe they weren’t all professional

performers. It cheered me up – a bit – after

the derby result.”

Anne Simpson, from South Shields, whose daughter was

performing, said:

“I just loved it – the energy, the music,

the colour, the whole thing was great and

right here on our doorstep. I’ve never seen

anything like it, and it’s so important that we

have performances like this in Shields. I can’t

believe it was free – I’d have paid to see it.”

10 11



Summer 2015

Our Summer Streets Music

Festival was again held in

Thompson Park, Southwick,

in June 2015. Headlined by

Hyde and Beast, the festival

was held over two days, with

the Sunday having an Alice

in Wonderland theme. Ross

Millard again programmed

an amazing, electic mix of

musical genres which was

thoroughly enjoyed by 5,000


Mr Drayton’s



Winter 2015


Autumn 2015

An umbrella for ladybirds;

a Hoover you can ride on

and a hovering skipping

rope were just some of the

wild and wacky inventions

dreamed up during


The project was led by

Sunderland designer, artist

and inventor Dominic Wilcox.

Known for his innovative and

off-the-wall ideas Dominic

has exhibited worldwide

in museums and galleries,

including London’s Design

Museum and the V&A.

Emerging from Dominic’s

interest in the imaginative

nature of children and the

impact someone can have

on a young person’s life,

INVENTORS! set out to

inspire the next generation

of Sunderland and South

Tyneside inventors. It

encouraged children to

believe in the power of their

minds and pushed their

imaginations to show them

the potential of their ideas.

Dominic led 19 two-hour long

workshops at schools and

with community groups, with

450 children aged between

four and 12. The children

were tasked with thinking

of their own inventions and

drawing them.

Some of these fantastic

ideas were then taken to

local manufacturers who

turned dreams into reality.

An exhibition of the working

prototypes and models was

held in a pop-up shop on

Fawcett Street, Sunderland

and then in the Central

Library, South Shields.

The project attracted a huge

amount of media attention,

with articles appearing in

The Times, The Telegraph,

The Independent and on-air

coverage on CNN, the BBC’s

Newsround and on Canadian

TV. INVENTORS! also featured

on Buzzfeed, tech publication

WIRED and the German

family magazine Eltern.

INVENTORS! was also

the inspiration behind a

STEAMCo Day held at

Monkwearmouth Academy.

The day, attended by Arts

Council England Chair Sir

Peter Bazalgette and local

MPs, was aimed at promoting

the importance of teaching

arts and creativity in schools

and colleges. During the

event, Sir Peter declared

Sunderland ‘the poster child

of how arts and culture can

drive regeneration.”

Amazing! Such

creative and original

ideas! So inspiring!

Very proud of our

talented students!

Art department

Monkwearmouth Academy



attended an



In May, 2015 The Cultural

Spring was looking for a new

storytelling project which

we could run across our ten

wards. Freelance director for

the BBC Helen Spencer and

her partner BBC producer

Steve Drayton pitched the

idea of the Human Jukebox

which was commissioned in

late summer of 2016, with

the project to be delivered

over the winter.

For six months more than

300 people throughout South

Tyneside and Sunderland

were interviewed and asked

what is your most memorable

song? And what is the story

behind it?

From these two simple

questions came astounding

stories of personal triumph,

amazing bravery and

unbearable loss. They also

produced an amazing eclectic

playlist spanning reggae to

pop, rave to rock.

Some of the most interesting

stories were retold during Mr

Drayton’s ‘Social Evenings’

which were held in venues

at Roker, Whitburn and

Marsden. At these evenings

some of the interviewees

told their incredible stories

and their choice of song was

played, sometimes by a live

band or group.

The project culminated with

a packed live finale at Hylton

Castle Working Man’s club

on January 30, 2016. The

event was full of surprises,

laughter and reflection with

live performances, music and

touching re-tellings from both

contributors and celebrity


Sunderland-born author

Terry Deary performed a

memorable version of Elvis’s,

I Can’t Help Falling In Love

and BBC Newcastle’s Alfie

Joey sang Frank Sinatra’s,

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

with backing dancers from the

Kathleen Davis Dance School.

The Hylton Ukes , who

came together through The

Cultural Spring’s workshop

programme, performed

Donovan’s Catch The Wind

and there was also belly

dancing from Kay Taylor and

her group.

Lauren Mcleish from South

Shields told the story of how

she lost both her parents at

a young age. She was raised

by her grandmother, who

was present on the night, and

whom she touchingly paid

tribute to. Sharon McQullen

chose HooberStank’s The

Reason and told her story of

how it helped her overcome

personal obstacles in her life.

The amazing people we

met and interviewed can

be found, along with their

stories and choices, at www.


Number of



in Year 2


12 13


Year Three

A Great Night Out

Spring 2016

A Great Night Out was

the culmination of months

of workshops held across

Sunderland and South

Tyneside and celebrated

the area’s rich heritage and

amazing community spirit.

It was delivered on May 31

in The Point, Sunderland,

by WildWorks, a respected

theatre company that

has delivered site specific

performances in towns and

cities around the world.

For months before the

performance, WildWorks

worked with Wearsiders

and South Tynesiders,

collecting extraordinary

stories from ordinary people.

Accompanied by speciallycommissioned


performers brought these

stories to life in a moving and

often funny performance.

The venue was transformed

into a, ‘Glittering Dream

Space’ full of community

talent and local heroes who

all arrived in their best attire.

Greeted with champagne and

canapés, guests enjoyed a

projection of 1930s film the

Swings before the stories got


The audience was plunged

into darkness as a former

miner told of the time he

was trapped in a pit after

the shaft collapsed in on

itself. He dreamed of the

Northern Lights and sea, a

dream which came true when

he was freed from the mine

and sailed to Thunder Bay,

Newfoundland and Chicago.

Former soldier turned teacher

Len Gibson told his incredibly

powerful story of his years in

captivity as a Japanese POW.

With friends dying around

him, he created a banjo in

an attempt to raise morale.

Overcoming sickness, disease

and surviving the camp he

married his nurse, Ruby, who

took care of him when he

returned home. Len, now 95,

played his banjo and sang

On The Street Where You

Live, a song he used to sing to

Ruby who had recently passed


Other performances came

from Ross Millard, who led

the house band, the Hylton

Ukes and George Shovlin

and the Radars. Ray Spencer

expertly hosted the evening.

David Bowies Heroes

provided a fitting sound track

to end the night which was full

of laughter, tears and pride.

14 15



Summer 2016

Held for the third time in

Thompson Park, Southwick,

our Summer Streets music

festival attracted an estimated

8,000 people who enjoyed a

weekend of live music which

included the premiere of a

Cultural Spring research and

development project, Putting

the Band Back Together.

The event, hosted as usual by

the BBC’s Jeff Brown and Ray

Spencer from the Customs

House, was headlined by

Field Music and included

performances from the

Royal Northern Sinfonia, The

Cornshed Sisters, indie band

Martha and South Shields

band the Heavenly Thrillbillies.

people attended

Summer Streets,


“It was a great piece of art and proof, if

any was needed, that when a great idea is

supported and a community comes together

it is our greatest social weapon. The long

term benefits should not be underestimated:

speaking to the wonderful young

participants from Newcastle and Sunderland

College who told me they would be following

their dreams because the experience had

inspired them.”

Ian Horn


Autumn 2016

WordPlay was a joint

commission with South

Tyneside Council and helped

to celebrate the opening of

The Word - The National

Centre For The Written

Word, in South Shields on

November 3, 2016.

Delivered by the same team

that created RUSH - Event

International and Southpaw

Dance Company - WordPlay

was a mass movement, dance

spectacular that drew on the

rich heritage and deep literary

history of South Tyneside and

explored themes relating to

the written word.

For two months workshops

were held in local community

venues throughout South

Shields and Sunderland,

where dancers of any ability

aged 16 and above were

taught choreographed

routines by professionals from

the Southpaw team.

The final performance took

place in the Market Square

with the impressive backdrop

of the Word building. More

than 100 dancers performed

in front of an audience of a

thousand people.

Number of

people at




16 17

Our Workshop Programme

From the very beginning

our seasonal workshop

programmes have embodied

the organisation’s mission

to engage more people and

local communities in arts and


For the past three years, we’ve

run workshops across our

ten wards, covering a wide

variety of art forms including

glass fusing; local storytelling;

ceramics; learning to play

the ukulele; photography;

creative writing; digital

imaging; sewing and textiles;

drama; singing groups and

much more.

We worked closely with our

communities to ensure the

workshops delivered are

what they were interested

in, and over the last three

years our programmes have

been refined and honed with

the help and experience of

workshop attendees.

Venues across our wards were

carefully chosen to ensure our

workshops were delivered in

places as close as possible

to our residents – these

have included coffee shops,

churches, community centres

and workingmen’s clubs.

They provide opportunities for

people to come along and

learn a new skill or art form,

and to socialise and form new

relationships with people who

share similar interests. Our

hope has always been that

the workshops would lead to

self-sustaining groups.

One such group is Hylton

Ukes who now meet twice

a week and came together

through ukulele workshops

held in the Hylton Castle

ward. Hylton Ukes have

performed live at events

including A Great Night

Out, Summer Streets and Mr

Drayton’s Human Jukebox.

“I’d heard about it and came long on a Tuesday

night to have a look. It excited me and now I’m a

regular attender. I didn’t know the group before,

but now they’re my best mates.”

Ian, Hylton Ukes

Number of




in Year 3




attended our

workshops in


Our workshops have also

provided residents with

opportunities to work on some

amazing projects from huge

dance performances featuring

hundreds of participants, to

creating artwork for exhibition

and meeting influential artists.

RUSH and Wordplay

workshops gave residents

the opportunity to be taught

by professional dance group

Southpaw and take part in

large-scale, choreographed


Working closely with schools,

Ship of Light workshops

allowed people to design their

own bottles and have them

featured in the display as

part of the 2016 Sunderland


‘The course has

rekindled an old

hobby and refreshed

some of the


And Lindsay Kemp, the

man who taught Kate Bush

and Bowie to dance, led

workshops giving ward

residents the chance to

interact and learn from a

hugely respected artist.

The workshop programmes

encourage inclusivity, break

down barriers and create

new and varied ways to

engage, helping us achieve

our ultimate aim of leaving a

lasting legacy of communities

with a genuine and abiding

interest in arts and culture.

‘Recommend the

course very highly.

Stimulating, exciting,

rewarding and very


Hannah Holcroft, Costume


Alice Smith, Drawing and


18 19

Research and

Development Projects

Bed of Roses

In the summer of 2014 we

funded artists Gilly Rogers

and Aly Stoker to deliver their

Bed of Roses project. This

involved a pop-up garden

shed appearing within our

wards in which Gilly and Ali

would ask people what made

their lives a bed of roses – this

could be a person, a memory,

a place, a pet or something

entirely different. Answers

were recorded and formed

a soundscape that was later

used at various Cultural

Spring events.

As well as producing

our large-scale

commissions and

delivering our seasonal

workshop programme,

The Cultural Spring

has also supported

and developed other

artistic projects

through our Research

and Development

programme and

through our Your Art


Our R&D projects have


Putting the Band

Back Together

Commissioned in the

Autumn of 2014 Putting The

Band Back Together aimed

to breathe new life into

discarded instruments and

‘lapsed’ musicians.

The project started with

community get-togethers

where folk who hadn’t played

an instrument for some time

were invited along to play

and to develop new songs.

Delivered by Unfolding

Theatre’s Annie Rigby working

with Ross Millard, the project

then developed into a live

stage show which premiered

at The Cultural Spring’s

Summer Streets in 2016

and then went on to enjoy

huge success at the 2016

Edinburgh Festival. It has

since completed a UK tour.

In the live show, Ross and

musicians Maria Crocker and

Alex Elliott explore the reasons

why we stop playing, the vast

emotional connections to

music each of us can have

and the story of Mark Lloyd

who inspired the project in the

first place.

An ex-bandmate of Alex’s,

Mark was diagnosed with

terminal cancer. He spent his

last few months contributing

to the creation of the show

and getting his old band back

together for one last charity


Arranging Mark’s life into a

ten-track album, Alex steps

into his shoes to express his

story and its various stages

through interpretative dance,

monologues and genrespanning

music made up of

original songs.


Research and


Projects over

three years

The project started with community gettogethers

where folk who hadn’t played an

instrument for some time were invited along

to play and to develop new songs.

Look and

Inspire: Pinhole

This was a community

engagement project

developed by local artist Jo

Howell, and funded by The

Cultural Spring development

in 2016 to engage people

with their local area

through photography. In

the workshops participants

learnt how to build their

own camera out of recycled

materials, and then use

traditional darkroom

techniques to produce unique

photographic images of


All of the workshops were free

and materials were provided.

The resulting photographs

created an exhibition which

went on show at ????

Letters to


Funded through The Cultural

Spring’s research and

development scheme, Letters

To Myself took the form of

both a participatory arts

project and theatre show. It

focused around themes of

self-reflection, self-value,

collective knowledge and

experiences and was created

by producer Becci Sharrock

and participation lead

Rachael Holgate.

Becci and Rachael have

worked with a huge

number of arts and culture

organisations including

Live Theatre, Theatre Sans

Frontieres, ARC, Northern

Stage, Weave Movement

Theatre, Ausdance Victoria

and Dance South West. Their

shared interest in how writing

can be used in creative ways

to represent the world and

creatively working with the

community to bring about

positive change inspired the


For six months they engaged

with participants across the

ten Cultural Springs wards

in Sunderland and South

Tyneside. They hosted writing

workshops, informal group

discussions and travelled

with their, ‘mobile living

room’ where they invited

communities in the region to

get involved.

The project encouraged

participants to write letters to

their past, present or future

selves answering questions

such as what do you wish you

could say to yourself? What

do you wish everyone knew?

Or what would you like to say

to your loved ones?

Ranging from the short,

humorous and light hearted

to the long, introspective and

thoughtful the letters covered

all manner of topics and

personal experiences which

were used to piece together

the final performance at the

Arts Centre Washington on

the September 8, 2016.

The performance followed

a narrative structure made

up entirely of material

gained from community

participation tackling themes

of love, friends, families and

decisions. It represented

both an acceptance and

recognition of the past as

well as a celebration of daily

triumphs taking the audience

on a trip down memory lane

through songs, dance and

creative expression.

The project encouraged participants to write

letters to their past, present or future selves

answering questions such as what do you

wish you could say to yourself?

20 21

The Cultural Spring


Your Art

Over the past three years

we have invested nearly

£52,884 in our local

communities through our

Your Art scheme. It aims

to help us create a lasting

legacy by supporting

community groups to shape,

lead or programme arts

events. Funding of up to

£1,000 has been available,

and decisions on where the

support has gone have been

made by panels involving

local residents.

We have supported 58 groups

over the last three years

and these include Sangini,

a women’s-led organisation

aiming to increase

participation in artistic and

social activities among

women in South Tyneside and


Other recipients include

Hylton Castle Primary School

who were given £1,000 to

develop the Sunderland Oak

film-making project; Happy at

Home, a befriending service

working in South Tyneside;

Castletown Community Choir;

ARTventures in Fulwell; West

Harton Action Station in East

Boldon and Grace House in

Southwick, Sunderland.

Go & Sees

Our programme was born

out of our main aim of

encouraging our communities

to engage in arts and culture

and promotes the fact that the

arts are for everyone and not

just a select few.

Offering free buses,

discounted tickets and

opportunities to meet

performers and artists, the

aim of the programme is to

provide new arts and culture

opportunities which may have

previously been unavailable

without the worry of cost or


Go and See opportunities

have included the Royal

North Sinfonia at Red House

Academy; Tyne by Michael

Chaplin at Customs House

and Live Theatre; Lydia’s

House at Customs House

and the Canny Space, the

Sunderland Empire Theatre,

Festival of Thrift, ‘Encounters’

with Lindsay Kemp and

SIRF (Stockton International

Riverside Festival and many


The number

of projects

supported by

Your Art


In October 2016, The

Cultural Spring was awarded

a further £1m by Arts

Council England, allowing

the project to continue up to

December 2019.

Over the next three years,

the Cultural Spring will

work in five new wards in

each borough - Hendon,

Millfield, Pallion, Sandhill

and St Anne’s in Sunderland

and Horsley Hill, Beacon

and Bents, Simonside and

Rekendyke, Monkton and

Bede in South Tyneside.

Cultural Spring Director

Emma Horsman said: “We’re

obviously delighted to be

continuing our work for a

further three years – and are

already looking forward to

working in our new wards.

Consultation sessions in the

ten wards have already taken

place and more are in the


“It’s vital for us to understand

what people in our wards

want, so we will continue

to talk to them, asking

what arts and culture

activity they’d like to see in

their neighbourhoods. But

there will be more large-

scale commissions and

the community workshops

programme will continue.”

Ray Spencer, Executive

Director of the Customs

House, said: “It’s great news

that The Cultural Spring will

continue to deliver excellent

arts and culture opportunities

in South Tyneside and

Sunderland. Cultural Spring is

seen as a national exemplar,

which means our people and

our communities are being

talked about and celebrated


Graeme Thompson, Chair

of The Cultural Spring and

Pro Vice Chancellor at the

University of Sunderland,

said: “As lead partner, the

university is a big advocate

of The Cultural Spring and

we’re thrilled it will be raising

aspirations and engagement

within the two boroughs

for another three years – at


Paul Callaghan, founder of

the MAC Trust, added: “The

project helps to provide

leadership and inspiration

in both boroughs and it

has achieved more than it

set out to do – the numbers

“We are extremely pleased that Cultural

Spring has been successful in securing the

funding towards the second phase. We

look forward to Cultural Spring continuing

to spread its magic among a bigger, wider

audience in Sunderland and South Tyneside.”

of residents engaged in

arts activity in our target

wards has increased and

communities are deciding

what art they want delivered

rather than being dictated to.”

Sangini, a women’s health

organisation working in both

boroughs is joining the three

original consortium partners.

Sreelekha Reddy, chair

of Sangini, said: “We are

extremely pleased that

Cultural Spring has been

successful in securing the

funding towards the second

phase. We look forward to

Cultural Spring continuing

to spread its magic among

a bigger, wider audience

in Sunderland and South


What activities would you like

to see the Cultural Spring

delivering? Email your ideas to


To keep up to date, sign

up to the Cultural Spring

e-newsletter via the website -


or follow us on Twitter


22 23

Thank You

The Cultural Spring

would like to thank

all participants

and audiences who

have taken part in

our activities and

your commitment,

enthusiasm and

feedback which have

helped to drive the

project forward.

Thanks also go to:

The Cultural Spring Steering


Cultural Spring Community

Champions who have

volunteered their time and

support to the project

All of the venues and schools

who have provided space for

our events and workshops

over the past three years.

Workshop artists, recipients

of our Your Art support and

Research and Development

projects, your creativity, vision

and hard work have taken us

all on a fantastic journey.

We would also like to thank

all of our Cultural Calendar

commissioned artists and arts


Ross Millard for Summer

Streets and Great North


Garry Hunter and Fitzrovia

Noir for Street Art Heroes and

Great North Passion

Invisible Flock for Bring the


SouthPaw Dance Company

and Event International for

RUSH and WordPlay!

Dominic Wilcox and Suzy

O’Hara for Inventors!

Steve Drayton and Helen

Spencer for Mr Drayton’s

Human Jukebox

WildWorks for A Great

Night Out

BBC, Joseph Hillier, Julian

Germain, Gem Arts, Graeme

Danby, Bad Taste Cru, Kate

Fox, Tees Valley Arts, Richard

Broderick, Jaff Craig, Sage

Gateshead, Bait, Great North


Our colleagues from South

Tyneside Council and

Sunderland City Council.

Rebecca Ball, Graeme

Thompson and all our

colleagues from the

University of Sunderland; Paul

Callaghan, John Mowbray

and our Sunderland MAC

(Music, Arts and Culture Trust)

colleagues; Ray Spencer

and our colleagues from

The Customs House, Mark

Adamson, Bev Morton, Rob

Lawson. Our colleagues from

across the National Creative

People and Places Network.

And finally a huge thank

you to Arts Council England

for making this all possible

through your investment.

Photographic credits: Dan

Prince, Colin Davison and

Robin Fearon

Contact us via www.theculturalspring.org.uk or ring us on 0191 427 8197

Similar magazines