THE North East’s leading carnival arts company has something to celebrate, as it continues its expansion with the launch of a new centre in Sunderland.

The Creative Seed, which has a national reputation for its staging of carnival parades and special events, has taken over the former St Hilda’s Parish Centre, The Kings Road Southwick – previously the area’s labour exchange – and created a new arts centre.

The latest acquisition comes shortly after The Creative Seed took over St Hilda’s Pit Head in South Shields, which is also now being used as a creative and arts space.

The centre – which will officially open on 27 March – has been renamed Carnival House and will host a range of workshops, activities and a full programme of classes for all ages, along with being available for private hire for celebrations, events and business meetings.

The new venue also boasts a carnival-themed café, which will be open to the local community and visitors from further afield.

“The transformation of the building is spectacular and we’re sure everyone that sees it will be blown away and realise what a huge asset this is to the area,” said Sandy Harris, Artistic Director at The Creative Seed.

“We have some amazingly ambitious plans and we’re offering a mixed programme of workshops and events so there will be something for everyone.”

The launch of Carnival House is the latest success story for The Creative Seed, which has worked extensively with organisations across the region and beyond.

This includes being the driving creative force behind South Tyneside Council’s annual summer festival parade and creating the community parade for Sunderland’s Halloween Lights Out festival last year.

“Having some incredible spaces means that we can continue to grow what we do and what we can offer to the local community,” said Sandy.

Workshops already planned include needlecraft and glassmaking with a full programme of evening entertainment also currently being planned.

“It’s a very exciting venture for us and hope people will come along and not only be amazed at the transformation but will also see Carnival House as something of real value for the area,” said Sandy.

For more information about Creative Seed visit www.creativeseed.org