Arts project chiefs defend work in South Tyneside after criticism over cash allocation

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.

Art bosses have hit back at their critics in South Tyneside after claims they are not giving the borough a fair share of the available fuding.

The Cultural Spring came under fire during a recent meeting of the West Shields, Cleadon and East Boldon area forum.

We have been very careful to ensure there is an even split between Sunderland and South Tyneside, despite the disparity in populations.

Emma Horsman

Coun Bill Brady and Coun Joan Atkinson said they felt more emphasis was being put on hosting attractions and events in Sunderland.

Project director of The Cultural Spring, Emma Horsman, said: “We were very sorry to hear two South Tyneside councillors felt the borough was not benefitting from the great work of The Cultural Spring to the same extent as Sunderland.

“We have been very careful to ensure there is an even split between Sunderland and South Tyneside, despite the disparity in populations.

“Our launch event, the Great North Passion, was held in South Shields, as have other major commissions RUSH and WordPlay, the latter, we worked closely with South Tyneside Council.”

She added: “Several major commissions have been split between the two areas such as Street Art Heroes, Bring the Happy and Mr Drayton’s Human Jukebox.

“As our current, large-scale commission is being worked on in Sunderland, our next large-scale work – a series of four arts commissions, mainly theatre touring to local community venues - will happen in our South Tyneside wards. We will continue to share our larger commissions evenly between the two boroughs.”

She went on to say Cultural Spring is working with a number of venues in South Tyneside and provided funding for artists and organisations that may not have thought of working with each other before.

Match-funding has also been offered in a bid to attract more arts funding in the borough while £367,500 will be spent over the next three years in South Tyneside – the same amount as in Sunderland.

Miss Horsman added: “We would be happy to meet the councillors and show them more of our work and arrange for them to meet some of the participants who have taken part to date.”