Everything from ukulele sessions to comedy writing workshops on offer in Sunderland and South Tyneside as Cultural Spring launches new programme for Sunderland and South Tyneside

Creative and crafty types – and anyone else who fancies trying their hand at something new – have the chance to take part in the latest series of activities organised by an award-winning arts project.

One of the at-home craft packs offered by Cultural Spring
One of the at-home craft packs offered by Cultural Spring

The Cultural Spring has announced its new season of activities, running for the next 18 months.

Writing bootcamps, a comedy writing workshop, singing sessions and the opportunity to learn and be inspired by ‘awesome artists’ are all promised by organisers.

There will also be craft packs to complete at home, calligraphy classes, mixed paper crafts, photography courses, taster sessions in playing the ukulele, sculpture, pottery and ceramics.

Craft guru Kath Price leads a workshop

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    The project is funded by Arts Council England, and aims to increasing the number of people taking part in arts activities in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

    Its autumn programme is a hybrid of online sessions, home activities and in-person workshops at venues across both areas.

    Emma Horsman, project director for the Cultural Spring, said: “Because of the covid pandemic, last year we had to move the vast majority of our work online and while our ‘virtual’ workshops and sessions were very well received, it’s great to be able to offer people face-to-face activities again.

    “We understand some people are not able to leave their homes. Others may be nervous about sharing space so we’ve retained at home craft pack activities and online sessions in our programme too.

    “What we’re offering over the next few months is the most wide-ranging programme we’ve put together in our seven-year history. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or more experienced we think we have something for you – and with expert help at hand our aim is to make arts and culture as accessible as possible for people living in Sunderland or South Tyneside."

    She added: “There are some great opportunities to learn something new or take up a new hobby, being led by some great artists, singers and arts practitioners.”

    Emma said the workshops and sessions are free to attend, but are delivered on a ‘Pay what you feel model’ – all donations go back into the programme so The Cultural Spring can offer more opportunities to local residents.

    The workshops and sessions include:

    :: Writing Bootcamp (online - starts Saturday, October 2 and every Saturday until December 4) with writer James Whitman, who will take participants through how to build a story character;

    :: Awesome Artists (online - Thursday, September 30 to December 9) Get inspiration from the achievements of artists past and present – all of whom have a connection to the region;

    :: Photography with mobile phones (two taster sessions on Wednesdays September 22 and 29) In-person workshops at Doxford Park Box Youth and Community Project in Hall Farm. Dress for the weather and make sure you take your phone!;

    :: Ukulele taster sessions (two sessions on Wednesdays October 6 and 13) In-person, also at Box Youth and an ideal starting place to learn how to play an instrument. Ukuleles will be available to borrow;

    :: Rainbow craft sessions (two taster sessions on Thursdays October 14 and 21). In-person at Clegwell and Hartleyburn Community Hub in Hebburn. Join The Singing Elf for crafts for all the family;

    :: Felt Nowt Comedy (two workshops on Thursdays November 4 and 11). Join the Felt Nowt team at Clegwell and Hartleyburn Community Centre to develop your comedy writing skills – age restrictions apply;

    :: Ceramics/Mosaics (two taster sessions at the Jarrow Focus Centre in Cambrian Street, Jarrow, on Thursdays, November 11 and 18). Our pottery course, led by artist Lindsay Grieves, will introduce you to some of the traditional clay techniques;

    :: The Art of Water (two in-person taster sessions at SALT Regeneration NE studio in Ryhope on Saturdays September 25 and October 2). Participants will learn to paint in water colour paints and then water-soluble inks

    The craft-pack activities in its new programme are designed for people to complete at home, with guidance and support from local artists.

    These include ‘Autumn and Winter Whimsies’ with artist Kath Price, textile packs with artist Claire Finlay, eco and wellbeing packs from Hebburn-based creative CIC Williby Roc’s, calligraphy packs from Creative Calligraphy, and mixed paper craft packs from The Singing Elf.

    The last element of the programme is The Cultural Spring’s popular Go and See programme, which gives people living in Sunderland and South Tyneside the chance to experience great arts and cultural events inside and outside of the boroughs at reduced cost.

    Through the autumn programme, people will be able to visit Sunderland’s Fans Museum and the Seventeen Nineteen project in Holy Trinity Church in Sunderland. Additional Go and See visits will be added in the coming months.

    For more information, including the times of sessions and workshops, or to book, go to the Workshops section of our website at www.theculturalspring.org.uk

    Places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and priority will be given to those living in Sunderland or South Tyneside.

    Craft packs will only be available for people not engaged in other activities and are mainly home-based.

    The Cultural Spring was launched in 2014 and is funded by Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places project.

    Its five partners are University of Sunderland, the Customs House (South Shields), Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust Sangini, a women’s health organisation, and The Cultural Spring Charity.

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