ARTS Centre Washington’s annual showcase for young artists, Bright Lights 2021, is open for submissions.

The centre’s regular Youth Arts Exhibition is supported by Sunderland Culture and is a platform for young people from across Wearside to show their exciting talent. This year’s Bright Lights will be curated by the Celebrate Different collective.

Celebrate Different is a team of young Wearsiders aged 13-25 years united on a mission to get their voices heard and to inspire other young people across Sunderland.

Matthew Blyth, Audience Development Officer at Arts Centre Washington, said: “Arts Centre Washington’s Bright Lights: Youth Arts Exhibition has become a popular and much anticipated feature in our calendar.  It’s refreshing to work with the young curators and they always bring a different and exciting view of what they want the exhibition to look like.

“This year we are widening our call for entries to include music, poetry and digital art work. 2020 has been a difficult year for all of us but hopefully it has inspired some fantastic artworks!

“The quality of art work produced by young people in the city astounds us every year and I’m sure this year will be better than ever.

The multi-disciplined exhibition is now in its 26th successful year. Last year the arts centre received about 90 entries, spanning textile art, mixed media sculpture, digital photography, painting and video. Entries came from schools, youth groups and individuals from all over the city.

Entries from young artists aged 11-19 are encouraged for this year’s show, and chosen artwork will appear on display in Arts Centre Washington’s professional gallery between February 13 and April 10, 2021.

The themes of this year’s exhibition are inspired by the Paint the Town in Sound exhibition which was due to be displayed at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, but has now gone online.  The themes are:

  • Expression and identity;
  • The modern world;
  • The Lockdown;
  • Locality and Heritage;
  • Freedom and Social Change.

Paint the Town in Sound explores the relationship between musicians and artists. The exhibition, which you can find at, has been developed as part of Sunderland Culture’s prestigious partnership with Arts Council Collection (ACC), the National Partners Programme.

The artworks in the exhibition, chosen by Sunderland band Field Music, are drawn from the Arts Council Collection and feature work from Helen Cammock, Jeremy Deller,  Anthea Hamilton, Mark Leckey and Susan Philipsz. The exhibition also features a roster of artists and musicians born or working in the north east, including Simeon Barclay, Laura Lancaster and Narbi Price.

A digital version of the Bright Lights exhibition will be produced and submissions are open until 4pm on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

Young artists can submit up to three pieces of artwork. To submit your work go to