New arts venue gets the thumbs up from local artists

Sunderland Council have given the go ahead for the £8.2million venue for the new performing arts theatre which will be adjacent to the Old Fire Station on High Street West.

The theatre is expected to have enough space for 450 seats and will fit at least 700 people standing. It will also have an outdoor stage and an open area music and performance space towards the rear of the re-developed fire station. Sunderland’s new arts venue will be “bigger than the Empire” says Pop Recs’ Dave Harper.

This performing arts venue will be behind the old fire station and will include performances, dance, drama and comedy and will be double the size of the Empire theatre on the same road.

Director of the Fire Station, Helen Green, said: “It will be a venue of which the city can be proud, presenting local, regional, national and international artists to local audiences and giving new and emerging artistic talent a platform on which to shine.”

Entrepreneur, Dave Harper, who is also one of the drummers from Frankie and the Heartstrings, works in Pops Recs near to where the new arts venue will be constructed, with work due to start later this year.

Harper said: “The arts venue will be offering something new to the Sunderland area. It will be reversing the traffic in the traditional pub culture of Sunderland. It will bring people into Sunderland.

“We need the space to nurture the talent and this venue will nurture the creativity in the Sunderland area.”

Kenny Sanger, who currently works at The Bunker just next to Pop Recs, has been involved with this project since the last four years and so far the project has taken five years.

Sanger said: “It was initially Jason Flanagan’s idea to design this project and we hope that it will encourage more people to travel into Sunderland with this theatre’s launch, hopefully in 2019.”

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