SUNDERLAND Culture has programmed six weeks of exciting arts activity to encourage Wearside families to get outside and explore the wildlife and outdoor spaces on our doorstep.

Inspired by Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden’s natural history and art collection, the programme features a range of themes including plants and gardens, rivers and seas, castles and outdoor photography.

The activities, which are all online, include short films and printable worksheets. Free takeaway packs full of printed activities, are also available from Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

Keith Merrin, Chief Executive at Sunderland Culture, explained: “Our Summer Family Programme is about us thinking beyond the walls of our venues and encouraging families to appreciate the wonderful wildlife and countryside around us.

“Because of the pandemic, some of our venues remain closed and others have restricted access, so we had to think differently about our programme and how it is delivered. All of our venues have worked together to produce the programme, which will feature two activities a week over the next six weeks.

“In the current COVID climate, outdoor spaces are generally safer than indoor spaces and we’ve worked creatively to connect local outdoor spaces to our collections.”

The programme also gives young people an opportunity to gain a prestigious Arts Award. From August 6 – 20, Arts Award participants will be able to learn new creative skills, find out about the Arts Council Collection and take part in a range of activities, culminating in gaining an Explore Arts Award and certificate. Arts Award inspires young people to grow their arts and leadership talents and is accredited by Trinity College London

The weekly themes of Sunderland Culture’s Summer Family Programme are:

  • Plants and Gardens (w/c July 20) – Make your own Zine, try a minibeast hunt and find out about local plant folklore;
  • From the River to the Sea (w/c August 3) – Enjoy a rockpool ramble or make a herring gull kite;
  • Home is Where the Art Is (w/c August 17) – Try animation, den building, colour transformations and soundscapes;
  • Castles and Heritages (w/c August 23) – Learn about the symbols of heraldry or make a model castle;
  • Exhibition-focused activities – these will be artist-led activities inspired by the Arts Council Collection. Activities will be streamed or posted online and included in Sunderland Culture’s takeaway packs.
  • Nurture – In these uncertain times, Sunderland Culture has designed additional activities to encourage families to work together to creatively explore ideas around change, uncertainty, family, home, wellbeing and comfort.

Specific activities include an ArtZine workshop with artist James Whitman looking at how to survive the Goblin Path in Roker, and how to get past Princess Anne Park’s Boulder Monster (Friday, August 7, 11am- noon); and another session (Friday, August 21, 11am – noon) with James looking at what you are most afraid of – creepy crawlies, germs or maths tests?

“We’re really grateful to artists like James and Pauline Taylor, our own talented teams and organisations such as Durham Wildlife Trust who’ve worked with us to put together such an interesting and inspiring programme,” added Keith.

To find out more about Sunderland Culture’s Summer Family Programme simply follow their Facebook and Twitter pages, and visit:  https://sunderlandculture.org.uk/summer-family-programme/