Our Board

Sunderland Culture was formed in April 2016 as a partnership set up by Sunderland City Council, the University of Sunderland and the business-led Sunderland MAC (Music, Arts and Culture) Trust.

Its brief is to manage cultural venues across Sunderland and develop city-wide cultural projects.

Sunderland Culture’s activities are managed by a board comprising directors from each of the three partner organisations along with five independent members.


The six directors appointed by the founding partners are:

  • Fiona Brown, Executive Director of People Services (Sunderland City Council)
  • Councillor John Kelly, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Wellness and Culture (Sunderland City Council)
  • Steve Knight, Chief Operating Officer (University of Sunderland)
  • Graeme Thompson, Pro Vice Chancellor Connections and Place, (University of Sunderland)
  • John Mowbray OBE (MAC Trust)
  • Paul Callaghan CBE (MAC Trust).


The independent directors are:

  • Andrew MacKay, director of the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust in Cumbria
  • Annabel Turpin, chief executive of the ARC arts centre in Stockton
  • Iraa Kadchha, director of Sunderland-based RGB Media
  • Gillian Miller, regional director of the Association of Colleges.


The board is supported by:

  • Keith Merrin, Chief Executive
  • Rebecca Ball, Creative Director