South Shields husband and wife arts team set up new creative venture in Sunderland’s Old St Hilda’s Parish Centre

A husband and wife team who’s creativity has brought the sights and sounds of carnival to the streets of South Tyneside ar looking forward to kickstarting their latest venture in Sunderland.

By Lisa Nightingale
Saturday, 26 January, 2019, 08:00
(Left to right) Kath Thompson, Alex Samuels, Sandy Harris and Ashley Allen outside of the former St. Hilda's Parish Centre. Picture by FRANK REID

Garner and Sandy Harris are well-known for their colourful displays that help add vibrancy, fun and enjoyment to the various events through their company The Creative Seed - most notably South Tyneside’s annual Festival Parade.

Now, the couple are set to use their talents in design and choreography to take their love of all-things carnival to a new level after taking over the Old St Hilda’s Parish Centre, in Sunderland.

Sandy Harris inside of the former St. Hilda's Parish Centre. Picture by FRANK REID

The pair, who met in London’s West End in 1992 when Garner was working as a dancer and Sandy was a costume supervisor on the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber rock musical at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, are preparing to launch a national carnival arts and cultural centre.

They aim to use the centre, in Kings Road, Sunderland, as a base to provide a range of activities, from exhibitions to performances as well as master classes, workshops and functions.

Costume making, hip hop, aerial and stilt walking are only some of the regular activities the company will be offering.

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The Creative Seed team have been working with developers A&M commercial property management Ltd on getting the layout and design of the building just right.

Sandy Harris the company’s CEO said “When I walked into the building and saw the beautiful arched windows and high beamed ceilings, I immediately fell in love with the place and knew it was perfect for the Creative Seed”.

The company is known for its work on events like the South Tyneside Summer Parade, the Tall ships Welcome Parade and last year’s Newcastle Mela.

Coun Alex Samuels said “It was great news to hear that the Parish Centre building was going to be back in use, especially with some of the plans The Creative Seed have in mind.

“Southwick has a great history of culture and a new arts centre is a welcome addition to the area, especially having heard some of the plans Creative Seed have to make it a success.”

For information on The Creative Seed email creativeseed100@gmail.org or visit The Creative Seed Carnival on Facebook; @creativeseed100 on Twitter of TheCreativeSeedCarnival on Instagram.