Project will bring city and Durham to­gether


Sunderland Echo - - News - By Kevin Clark Twit­ter: @kevinclarkjp

An am­bi­tious new project will unite the River Wear’s two cities.

Arts group Sun­der­land Cul­ture has been awarded a £745,000 grant to de­liver the three-year glass and con­tem­po­rary art scheme.

The new or­gan­i­sa­tion, formed by Univer­sity of Sun­der­land, the city coun­cil and Sun­der­land Mu­sic Arts and Cul­ture (MAC) Trust, is cel­e­brat­ing af­ter be­ing awarded the grant from Arts Coun­cil Eng­land’s (ACE) £35.2mil­lion Am­bi­tions for Ex­cel­lence fund.

The ACE fund aims to con­trib­ute to the devel­op­ment of strong cul­tural places, grow and de­velop artis­tic lead­er­ship and cre­ate the high­est qual­ity of new work.

Keith Mer­rin, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of Sun­der­land Cul­ture, ex­plained: “We’re de­lighted to have been awarded £745,000 for our project, Be­lieve in Me: Cathe­drals to Cre­ative Cities, a world-class visual arts project which will cel­e­brate our her­itage and links to con­tem­po­rary art.

“The grant comes hot on the heels of our suc­cess­ful bid to the Great Place Scheme, where we se­cured £1.25mil­lion of fund­ing over three years.

“And it’s fur­ther ev­i­dence that the mo­men­tum built dur­ing our City of Cul­ture bid has not been lost, but has been the cat­a­lyst for even more growth in our cul­tural sec­tor.

“This new project will de­liver a se­ries of in­ter­na­tion­ally-out­stand­ing com­mis­sioned con­tem­po­rary works in glass – in recog­ni­tion of Sun­der­land’s glass her­itage and in hon­our of the An­glo-Saxon scholar, the Ven­er­a­ble Bede.

“The works will be pre­sented in key sites along the River Wear, from National Glass Cen­tre in Sun­der­land to Durham Cathe­dral. The project will cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for con­tem­po­rary artists and will in­vest in the tal­ent devel­op­ment of those work­ing in hot glass and in the region’s ca­pac­ity to lead ma­jor visual arts projects.

“The project will also draw in re­gional, national and in­ter­na­tional au­di­ences to both cities.”

Be­lieve in Me: Cathe­drals to Cre­ative Cities will be led by a team, which will in­clude rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Sun­der­land-based The North­ern Gallery for Con­tem­po­rary Art (NGCA) and the National Glass Cen­tre.

Ju­lia Stephen­son, Head of Arts at National Glass Cen­tre, ex­plained: “Sun­der­land’s re­la­tion­ship with glass goes back to the sev­enth cen­tury and to the work of Bene­dict Bis­cop and the Ven­er­a­ble Bede at the Wear­mouth-Jarrow Monastery, the found­ing church of which, St Peter’s, sits next to our build­ing.

“Bede was one of the most revered and in­no­va­tive thinkers of his day and the themes of his work will pro­vide a cat­a­lyst for the project’s com­mis­sions.

“The project will cel­e­brate the area’s con­nec­tion to Bede, and help main­tain Sun­der­land’s rep­u­ta­tion as an im­por­tant in­ter­na­tional cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for artists work­ing in glass.”

“The com­mis­sioned artists, from across the globe, will be se­lected this year and un­der­take four-month res­i­den­cies at National Glass Cen­tre dur­ing 2019 and 2020 to ex­plore and de­velop their ideas and make new work in glass.

“The artists will have the sup­port of a spe­cial­ist team of glass mak­ers, and each artist will cre­ate one ma­jor in­stal­la­tion to be dis­played as part of a two-year ex­hi­bi­tion pro­gramme, cul­mi­nat­ing in 2021 when the art­work will be dis­played in venues along the Wear, in­clud­ing National Glass Cen­tre and Durham Cathe­dral.

“The year 2020 has been pro­posed as a Year of Pil­grim­age for the cathe­dral, and the World Her­itage Site would ex­pect to see a ma­jor up­lift of its vis­i­tor num­bers – the Ro­manesque cathe­dral at­tracts 750,000 vis­i­tors an­nu­ally.

Ali­son Clark, Di­rec­tor, Com­bined Arts, Arts Coun­cil Eng­land, said: “Am­bi­tion for Ex­cel­lence has pro­vided us with bril­liant and am­bi­tious arts projects, that will con­tinue to have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on artists, places and au­di­ences across the coun­try. In par­tic­u­lar, the fund has given us ex­cep­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for di­verse, emerg­ing and es­tab­lished artists to make work in new places or in new for­mats.

“We look for­ward to see­ing sim­i­lar bril­liant projects through our new Project Grants fund­ing stream this year.”

As well as de­liv­er­ing projects such as Be­lieve in Me: Cathe­drals to Cre­ative Cities and the Great Place Scheme, Sun­der­land Cul­ture will man­age and op­er­ate venues in the city, and work to raise the pro­file of the city.

National Glass Cen­tre and, be­low, Durham Cathe­dral will host a se­ries of ma­jor art projects.

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