North East Connected

City of Culture Campaign Tunes up

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 11.38.58A PACKED programme of music performed exclusively by Wearsiders will play a central part in the launch weekend of Sunderland’s bid to become the UK’s City of Culture 2021.

The city has announced plans for a two-day programme, from Friday, September 18 to Sunday, September 20 to officially mark Sunderland’s bid for City of Culture status. A consortium of committed city organisations will develop Sunderland’s bid for the City of Culture title, including the Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, the organisation that has led on the planning of the launch event.

The launch event on the Friday evening, based around Keel Square, will include music from the monster hit Shrek The Musical, ahead of its much anticipated visit to the Sunderland Empire this November.  The launch will also see a bumper line-up of entertainment including Gentoo community competition Gen Factor finalists SK Dance; and vocalist Sophie Ann Robson.  Other entertainment includes a performance from University of Sunderland students from Sage Gateshead; a newly commissioned piece from Theatre Space NE; a circus street performer; local bands including Frankie and the Heartstrings; and a City of Culture Film that shows community groups and everyday people talking about what Sunderland means to them.

Organisers have now revealed the launch weekend will include the Sunderland Soundscape music festival, packed with home-grown talent, for Saturday, September 19.

A wide variety of musical acts will perform in eight different locations – from Keel Square to the more intimate surroundings of the Indigo Rooms and The Dun Cow.

Paul Callaghan of the MAC Trust said: “The city has long been known for its dynamic and vibrant independent music scene, and I’m sure music will play an important part in our bid. So it’s right that Soundscape will showcase the city’s musical talent as a reminder of just how good we are. Soundscape will have a wide variety of musical genres – there really will be something for everyone, no matter what sort of music you enjoy.

He added: “We think we can win City of Culture status, but at the same time recognise that just being part of the process is something that will deliver huge benefits to Sunderland.  Cities that throw their hat into the ring benefit immensely, and the launch weekend aims to open everyone’s eyes to just what Sunderland was, is and is aiming to become. We hope as many people as possible will attend Soundscape gigs on the Saturday – and all of the launch weekend events, not just to enjoy some great performances, but to demonstrate how the city is right behind the bid.”

Soundscape starts on Saturday 19 at noon and includes the following:

The Ivy House and The Bunker will also be hosting live music, but the performers have not yet been confirmed.

All of the gigs are free, but venues will be operating a ‘pay what you want’ policy to help support the costs of providing the entertainment.

Gary Hutchinson, commercial director at Sunderland AFC and chair of the Sunderland Business Group, said: “The City of Culture 2021 launch evening line-up was packed with great local talent, so it is fantastic to see that Saturday’sentertainment will further build on that.

“Sunderland’s independent music scene is something to be really proud of.  We have an abundance of immensely talented performers, who have a grit and authenticity that makes them unique.  And it’s something that we’ve come to be recognised for nationally, after producing bands like Frankie and The Heartstrings and The Futureheads.  It’s great to celebrate this during the City of Culture launch weekend.

“We really do believe we have the ability to win City of Culture status, as our city has a thriving arts and culture scene that’s like no other.  There’s a palpable buzz around Sunderland, and looking at the 3,6,9 Vision, which captures all of the positive change coming up in the city over the coming years, you can see just how City of Culture 2021 status would elevate and enhance that.  I hope people get behind the launch event and come out in force to show their backing.”

The City of Culture 2021 launch event marks the start of the process of Sunderland compiling its bid to be crowned in the contest, which runs every four years.  The UK City of Culture programme was developed by the UK Government to build on the success of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture 2008, by creating a national cultural event spread over a year that draws the eyes of the nation on to one particular city or area.  The 2017 winner was announced as Hull, with the winning city is able to use the title as a chance to spell out their vision for their city and how they will use it in making a step change in their area and creating a lasting legacy.

For more information about the City of Culture 2021 Bid, visit or follow @Sunderland2021 on Twitter.

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