The Cultural Spring

Putting an artistic spring in the step of the North East
Ben Wilson's chewing gum art, part of Street Art Heroes
Ben Wilson's chewing gum art, part of Street Art Heroes
Photo: Rob Lawson
Boldon Dancers at The Great North Passion
Boldon Dancers at The Great North Passion
Alex Senna's work with Whitburn Academy, part of Street Art Heroes
Alex Senna's work with Whitburn Academy, part of Street Art Heroes
Photo: Rob Lawson
Drawing and chalk workshops at Summer Streets Festival 2014
Drawing and chalk workshops at Summer Streets Festival 2014
Photo: Dan Prince
Tiny Tweeties at Summer Streets Festival 2014
Tiny Tweeties at Summer Streets Festival 2014
Photo: Dan Prince

Where: Includes Castletown, Redhill, Southwick, St Peter’s/Roker and Fulwell in Sunderland and Biddick & All Saints, Boldon Colliery, Cleadon & East Boldon, Whitburn & Marsden, and Whiteleas in South Tyneside. 
With: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media – University of Sunderland, Customs House, The Music, Arts and Culture Trust

"Our ‘new’ street artists are some of South Shields’ least influential people but they have been entrusted with a project that has not only enhanced a small bit of their community, their work stands as a testament to their undeniable talent and self-belief.”
Project partner

The goal of The Cultural Spring is to get more people in Sunderland and South Tyneside to experience and be inspired by the arts.

The project is all about the residents themselves, so it starts by finding out what kind of events and activities they’d like to experience, then delivers them in collaboration with some of the best local, national and international artists.

This is an area that’s been hit by a decline in traditional industry and although new industries are coming to the area, the local economy needs to strengthen further to provide jobs for future generations. The project’s community focus helps ensure a programme that really engages, enthuses and entertains the 100,000 people living in the area.

The project works across the two metropolitan boroughs of Sunderland and South Tyneside and is the only Creative People and Places project led by a University. To broaden its appeal and inclusivity, The Cultural Spring embraces all art forms and genres, both traditional and contemporary as well as amateur and professional. On top of that, through an active social media presence and by creating a network of Community Champions, the project also involves local people right at the heart of the decision and commissioning process. An initiative called Your Art invests in new ideas for community-led activity.

Highlights of the programme so far include the hugely successful Summer Streets festival, which hosted a wide range of musical organisations and performances in a little-used park. Rush was a spectacular outdoor dance event led by Southpaw Dance Company with hundreds of local dancers. The Cultural Spring’s involvement in the Great North Passion has been another success story, with more than 1 million viewers watching the event on BBC TV.