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News: Sunderland Theatre company awarded 'levelling up' money to develop new theatre space in old warehouse.

Sunderland Theatre company awarded 'levelling up' money to develop new theatre space in old warehouse.

ALL SUNDERLAND IS A STAGE - Theatre group boosted with UKSPF grant

Live performances and city-based acting talents are receiving a boost with a grant of nearly £100,000. The funding is for Theatre-Space North East (TSNE) which is based in a former antiques warehouse in Borough Road, Sunderland.

TSNE has been using the building for rehearsals and storage, plans to open a 56 seat auditorium where it can stage more of its performances, and play host to touring groups and other local productions.

 Theatre Space left to right - Fundraiser Carl Chapman,Technical Manager Andrew Neale,  Artistic Director Corinne Kilvington andCreative Producer Jamie Brown.

Founded in 2012, Theatre-Space performs across the city and region and is known to many for its popular Shakespeare in the Park series which included open-air stagings of Hamlet in Roker Park. It has also worked with organisations such as Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen and The Cultural Spring to create The Food Bank Generation Game which explored food poverty in the North East, as well as touring Christmas shows such as The Pied Piper and Rumpelstiltskin. TSNE also offer and work closely with youth and community theatre groups.

Formerly the Peter Smith antiques warehouse and now called The Street, the grant of £98,258 from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) will allow TSNE to develop the building further as it nurtures and promotes more of the city’s acting and performance talents.

The grant will help develop TSNE plans, support further fundraising to turn the warehouse into The Street, which will house the studio theatre, creative offices and rehearsal spaces, and help develop a roof top garden. The grant is aimed at helping and nurturing a whole ecosystem to support more of Sunderland's creative sector. The Street project will be welcoming everything from theatre to stand up comedy from across the region and beyond.

In addition, the grant will help the group’s workshop and activities, and its own wider events programme. TSNE’s next major live production will see them bring two modern verse translations of Shakespearian classics to Sunderland this summer, and The Frog Prince later this year.

Ken Bremner MBE, Chief Executive of the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, chairs the Sunderland City Board, the partnership group overseeing approvals for UKSPF grants. He said: "We all know what a big part culture plays in all our lives and how important it is. We’re all consumers of culture and with the UKSPF grant we are supporting, sustaining and encouraging more cultural growth with TSNE. Theatre and performance arts already employ hundreds of people such as through work at the Sunderland Empire and at the Fire Station. TSNE are very much part of this cultural and theatrical infrastructure that is so important to our city and enjoyed by so many."

Alongside developing The Street, TSNE encourages individuals and communities to access the theatre and performing arts and encourage participation through its youth and community theatre groups, and see community performers joining summer shows.

Corinne Kilvington, Artistic Director of TSNE, said: "We're over the moon to have been successful in such a competitive process and this funding marks a real step change for us a small organisation. For over a decade we have been the only regularly producing, professional theatre company based in the city, and we're really excited that this money will help us change that by providing opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn skills and make new work here. "Theatre skills aren't just about performances, they're about communication, connection, and shared understanding, as well as confidence and community. And these things are really important throughout life. With the development of The Street we are looking to give grassroots theatre and creativity a home in Sunniside and make room for everyone, no matter their budget or experience."

Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Graeme Miller said: "Culture makes a substantial contribution to our city’s economy. Culture helps makes a city distinctive and attractive, it helps give us a greater sense of place, it’s something that we enjoy and this in turn promotes well-being. "Live performance and theatre are very much part of our city’s wider cultural appeal and we’re pleased that we can nurture more of this grass-roots work with TSNE and its plans for The Street."

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