A hat-trick of cultural wins for Sunderland

Sunderland Culture’s Helen Green and Hannah Matterson

Published on 06 June 2018

This year’s Journal Culture Awards were held in the magnificent setting of Hexham Abbey and Sunderland was well represented and among the winners, with the city's cultural sector celebrating a hat-trick of wins.

Paul Callaghan CBE, Chair of Sunderland’s Music, Arts and Culture Trust and driving force behind the city’s 2021 City of Culture bid and The Fire Station and auditorium development, was presented with an award for his special contribution to arts and culture in the region over many years.

Paul, the founder of the Leighton Group of companies and recently appointed High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, is also Chair of Live Theatre, a trustee at Sunderland Culture, a former board member at The Customs House, South Shields, a former Chair of NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) and the University's former Chairman.

Another Sunderland winner was the Sunderland 2021 team and local businesses, who won the Best Arts and Business Partnership category. Hannah Matterson, who was the Development and Events Co-ordinator at the 2021 team, accepted the award alongside Andy Bradley and John Green from The Bridges.

Fireflight, the unforgettable opening performance for The Fire Station, won the Best Event Sunderland category.

Three other Sunderland projects received runners up awards: National Glass Centre’s Jewellery exhibition; the Cultural Spring’s business partnership with the Bridges, and Sunderland Music Hub’s Sound Around project.

The event was staged in the Abbey in association with Northumberland County Council and was the 12th annual Journal Culture Awards.

Each award winner received a stunning ceramic sculpture on a beech wood base made by Sienna Griffin-Shaw, a recent graduate of the University of Sunderland’s Glass and Ceramics programme.

Various performances entertained the audience throughout the evening, none more so than 13-year-old Wearsider Tom ‘Mouse’ Smith who sang one of his own songs before a rousing version of House of the Rising Sun.

Other performers included Beccy Owen and her choir, folk singer Katie Doherty and her band The Navigators and brilliant busking triplets Trilogy.

Keith Merrin, Chief Executive of Sunderland Culture, said: “It was a great night for Sunderland and it’s hugely rewarding to see so much hard work recognised so publicly. We were all delighted for Paul, whose enormous contribution to cultural life in the city, and the region, could never be over-estimated.

“He is a true champion for the city, its culture and heritage and his leadership, drive and infectious enthusiasm have been pivotal in the city’s cultural revival.

“I was also delighted that the amazing work of the 2021 team was recognised with the Best Arts and Business Partnership award. The bid was all about collaboration and was a real team effort from the city – the business sector was particularly supportive and quick to offer money and resources to help.

“Those relationships with businesses across the city are ongoing while relationships with other businesses are being forged through Sunderland Culture.”

Councillor John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, said: “Well done to the winners and it’s excellent news to see all the hard work and achievements of our city’s cultural sector recognised with these awards.

“Sunderland’s had an amazing couple of years on the cultural front from the 2021 City of Culture bid to the opening of The Fire Station and, for all residents and all our many visitors, our city’s cultural bar continues to rise.

“The big cultural events continue this summer with the Tall Ships Races and the 30th Sunderland Airshow.”

Other winners at the Journal were: