Councillors criticise culture project for not doing enough for the arts in South Tyneside

Coun Bill Brady
Coun Bill Brady

A scheme aimed at increasing participation in the arts by people in South Tyneside has been criticised by senior councillors.

The Cultural Spring is a six-year project that looks to work with people across South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Dancers perform at The Great North Passion, the launch event of the Cultural Spring.

Dancers perform at The Great North Passion, the launch event of the Cultural Spring.

It aims to support people to experience and be inspired by the arts through workshops, exhibitions and events.

But, during a recent meeting of the West Shields, Cleadon and East Boldon Community Area Forum, the project was criticised by councillors who Sunderland was getting the lion’s share of the support.

Coun Bill Brady said: “It started off in Whiteleas and Biddick Hall because of the depravation but everything I’ve seen since, seems to be in Sunderland.

“We have problems getting to hospital in Sunderland. What makes poeople think people are going to travel to Sunderland to go see an exhibition.

We have problems getting to Sunderland hospital, what makes you think people are going to travel to Sunderland to go see an exhibition.

Coun Bill Brady

“I have to say, it is a big disappointment to me the way it has gone. I feel the children have been let down.”

Coun Brady’s comments were backed by Coun Joan Atkinson who queried whether Sunderland’s bid to be a City of Culture had any influence on the project.

Coun Atkinson said: “Without being too hash on Sunderland, it seems its bid for City of Culture has taken the spotlight and that’s how we feel.

“I’m pleased to see some of the work coming out next year. But we need to ensure that South Tyneside gets its fair share and its voice heard.”

The concerns were raised as Community Engagement Officer for the Cultural Spring Michael Barras told the meeting of a new wave of funding being made available for groups.

The cash is to enable groups to deliver an arts-based activity and can include travel and tickets to experience the arts, venue hire costs and contracting an artist or arts organisation.

Michael Barras, community engagement co-ordinator from the Cultural Spring, said: “I appreciate there is a lot of work to do and some things could be done differently.

“We try and split funding equally and I appreciate the difficulties with transport.”

Mr Barras said: “It has nothing to do with Sunderland’s City of Culture bid, that is separate to what we do. But I will take what you have said back.”

For details on the funding and to apply, go to theculturalspring.org.uk/your-art