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University delight at multimillion pound project go-ahead

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Published on 12 March 2020

Seascapes project
Seascapes project

This week, the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) announced a major new grant, which will allow an exciting and long-anticipated £5 million North East coastal project to begin.

Benefiting communities in South Tyneside, Sunderland, Durham and Hartlepool, the SeaScapes scheme will deliver 23 projects – both on-shore and beneath the sea - from South Shields to Teesmouth over the next four years.

The Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries at the University of Sunderland is responsible for running one of these programmes.

They will oversee a cultural engagement project that will run throughout the length of the Seascape project.

Professor Arabella Plouviez, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, said:  “This will include a new role ‘Creative Producer’ and lead on the delivery of an action research Arts and Creative Engagement programme driven by the project’s four thematic strands.

“These overarching strands will inform a series of participatory arts based commissions that will explore ways to connect research, practitioner expertise and resources within FACI and local communities within and across the footprint of the project.”

SeaScapes, or to give it its full title, the Tyne to Tees, Shores and Seas - Seascape Partnership Scheme, has taken three and a half years of detailed planning and preparation to arrive at this point. Now, thanks to the funding made possible because of the NHLF grant of £2,787,200, this very special project will begin as early as this spring.

A partnership and community approach to protecting and celebrating this fascinating stretch of coastline, SeaScapes will be the first of its kind in the UK – NHLF’s first Marine Landscape Partnership.

Sandwiched between the tourist hotspots of Northumberland and North Yorkshire, the coastline between the Tyne and Tees - the Heritage Coast of Sunderland, Durham and Hartlepool - is too often overlooked.

Heritage Coast officer, Niall Benson, says: “This funding is fantastic news for everyone living on and visiting this very special stretch of coastline.

“Thanks in part to television programmes like Blue Planet, there’s an unprecedented public interest in our seas and in marine conservation. So much of our natural, industrial, cultural and maritime heritage lies out-of-sight beneath the waves and through SeaScapes we’re looking forward to giving it more attention.

“The heritage of the Tyne to Tees seascape is locally and nationally significant and deserves to be better explored and celebrated. SeaScapes will do just that. The project is the result of a huge team effort and a lot of planning and we can’t wait to get started.”

As well as improving public access to beaches, SeaScapes will explore the heritage hidden beneath the waves, creating ‘snorkel safaris,’ producing a virtual reality wreck diving experience and offering opportunities for local people and visitors to enjoy being on and in the sea.

Plans also include using soundscapes and foodscapes to explore our understanding and relationship with the sea over time that will also include a high-profile beach care programme to address our ever-increasing marine litter problem.

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