The Cultural Spring – Autumn 2019 and Beyond

Regular readers will know I love to champion the work of The Cultural Spring – and there’s plenty to shout about at the moment!

The organisation, which has been increasing the number of people taking part in arts and culture activities in Sunderland and South Tyneside since 2014, has been awarded £500,000 to extend its award-winning work by three more years.

The project’s seasonal workshops, large-scale performances and support for community-based arts projects are funded through Arts Council England’s (ACE) Creative People and Places programme.

It received an initial £2m for the first three years, followed by a further £1m to deliver its second phase in 2016. The third phase will run from 2020 to 2023 – so the new autumn programme, launched earlier this month, fortunately won’t be its last!

Michael Barrass, Joint Project Director for The Cultural Spring, said: “We’re thrilled to have been given this vote of confidence by ACE and look forward to continuing our work in South Tyneside and Sunderland.

“Since starting in 2014, we’ve helped change the way arts and culture are viewed in both boroughs. Not only are more people experiencing arts and culture than when we began, but more people within our neighbourhoods feel empowered to help their communities take decisions about what artistic and cultural activities they’d like to see locally.”

The Cultural Spring: Autumn 2019

I have worked with The Cultural Spring for several years and I’m delighted to be running two further calligraphy workshops in one of the areas earmarked for phase three.

I’ll be at Monkton Park Methodist Church in Wood Terrace, Jarrow, on Wednesday, November 6, from 6pm to 9pm, and Saturday, November 16, from 10am to 1pm, although you only need to attend one of the sessions.

Other activities in the autumn programme include glass and copper foiling, podcasting, song-writing, stage make-up and winter crafts, as well as a large-scale public art event celebrating 25 years of The Customs House in South Shields.

Partners welcome funding boost

The Customs House is one of The Cultural Spring’s four partners, alongside the University of Sunderland, Sunderland’s Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust and Sangini, a women’s health organisation.

Graeme Thompson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sunderland and Chair of The Cultural Spring steering board, said: “The Cultural Spring has made a real impact on the cultural landscape of Sunderland and South Tyneside.

“So many individuals and groups have benefited from the events and activities organised by the project team.

“It’s successfully engaged with communities but also played an important role in offering opportunities to local artists and performers. I am delighted the funding will secure another three years of this remarkable project.”

Looking to the future

There was less money available for this round of funding, and The Cultural Spring received the maximum grant of £500,000. Despite this, the project is planning to continue with most of its popular programmes.

Michael added: “We plan to be continue with our seasonal workshop programmes in local community venues; with our Your Art fund which supports community groups to produce and deliver cultural activities and events, and with our popular Go and See visits, which give local people the opportunity to experience arts and culture outside of their neighbourhoods and communities.

“In addition to these core activities, we hope to introduce a couple of new strands. One would aim to help reduce social isolation through arts and culture and another would help local artists and groups to collaborate more easily.

“What won’t change, however, is our fundamental objective of getting local people to take decisions about arts and culture delivery in their locality.”

To find out more about The Cultural Spring and its autumn programme, click here.

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