Hundreds of Durham primary school pupils work with glass to achieve national art accreditation  


Students from a primary school in County Durham have successfully completed a year-long arts project in collaboration with National Glass Centre, earning 280 pupils their Arts Award Discover.

Since 2018, every pupil at Catchgate Primary School has been taking part in National Glass Centre’s Around the World project, with each of them creating an artwork inspired by worldwide cultures.

Using traditional art and design styles from eight different countries for inspiration, older pupils designed and made their own fused panels, which were on display at the National Glass Centre this summer.

Working alongside artist Zoe Garner, the students have learned about glass fusing techniques, and have captured the culture of the countries through imaginative use of pattern and colour while making references to geographical points of interest.

Younger pupils took part in glass painting workshops creating artwork inspired by international literature, which are on display at the school for parents to go and see.

Participation in the project has earned nearly every pupil at the school their Arts Award Discover – the first of five levels of a nationally accredited qualification in art.

Around the World was coordinated by Year 6 teacher Christine Falconer, and Rachel Groves, Learning Officer at National Glass Centre who said:

“It’s been an absolute delight working with all the fantastic pupils at Catchgate Primary School. They’ve created some wonderful pieces of glass work over the past year and we encourage everyone to come along to enjoy them at National Glass Centre over the next few months!”

Joanne Shaw, Head Teacher at Catchgate Primary School, said:

“The idea behind the Around the World project was to broaden the children’s horizons and understanding of other cultures as it can be quite insular where our children live. It’s important to show students that not all learning has to be academic, and to explore multiple cultures in an engaging and stimulating way.

“We already work with Sunderland University and National Glass Centre and this project seemed like the perfect way to continue that relationship. We are really proud of all of our students and the exhibition they have produced, and we’re also excited to have something that we can take back to the school and put on display for parents and families to come and enjoy.”

Maureen Nair, Chair of Governors at Catchgate Primary School, added:

“This project has also given the children the ability to see how many different careers are available in the arts, especially in glass, which they might not otherwise have been aware of. Many thanks to National Glass Centre and congratulations to the school for providing this opportunity.”

National Glass Centre and Sunderland Culture are committed to providing arts education to ensure young people push themselves and really engage with the arts. National Glass Centre can support all levels of Arts Award, working in collaboration to develop and deliver a project that is relevant and inspiring. For more information:

For more information on the Around the World project visit:


Young people across Sunderland are being given the exciting opportunity to co-produce and run their own events thanks to the launch of Sunderland Culture’s brand-new Young Ambassador Team project.

The project will give young people, ages 13-25, the chance to attend and organise cultural events, work with artists, and learn a host of new practical skills.

Applicants are welcome from all backgrounds, circumstances and levels of experience, and will work alongside Sunderland Culture to represent and champion young people’s voices in Sunderland.

Rebecca Ball, Creative Director of Sunderland Culture, said:

“Our new Young Ambassador project will empower young people in Sunderland by putting them at the heart of cultural programming in the city.

“We saw how powerful this was during the Sunderland City of Culture Bid with the inspiring contribution of young people through Team 21 Youth Group.

“Following on from that success, we were keen to develop this new opportunity for young people in Sunderland to be part of a creative project that enables them to gain new skills and have their say on what they want to see and do in the city!”

For the Young Ambassador Team’s first big project, Sunderland Culture have teamed up with Helix Arts to curate and organise a creative takeover event at Arts Centre Washington on 1 November 2019.

As part of the project, the young people will have access to Helix Art’s Make It Happen scheme which will equip and train the team with the skills to design, manage and deliver their own even including fundraising and budget handling.

Sessions will start over the summer, with events taking place every Wednesday at Arts Centre Washington from 4.30 – 6.30pm.

To find out more information about the project, Sunderland Culture are holding an open day on 29 June, 10.30am – 12.30pm, at Arts Centre Washington.

This project has been developed thanks to the support of Hays Travel Foundation and Culture Bridge North East Partnership Investment Fund.

Young people interested in signing up or to find out more information, please contact [email protected]

Highlights of new season at Arts Centre Washington announced

From tales of rebellion, haunting classics and the anti-wedding event of the year, to captivating children’s shows, must-see comedy, and magical Christmas experiences, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Arts Centre Washington’s exciting new autumn programme.

Theatre highlights include a loud and rambunctious new show by critically acclaimed rap storyteller Jack Dean, featuring an original score by a live band. Jeramiah tells the incredible true story of the much-misunderstood Luddite rebellion – a movement that spanned the whole North of England and made the destruction of machinery a capital offence. (6 September).

This is Not a Wedding invites audiences to join the wildly entertaining Gracefool Collective as they don their bridal dresses for an evening of laughter, tears, sing along and unique dance theatre. Re-imagining recognisable ceremonies, the show explores a generation’s experiences of tradition, conformity and expectation, in a last ditch attempt to figure out what it all means (3 October).

October also sees a new adaptation of Henry James’ disturbing classic, The Turn of the Screw, in an Edinburgh sell-out show featuring puppetry and a haunting original soundtrack.

For families, Bamboozle Theatre present Pulse – a captivating story of a young girl called Patience and her bird as they wait for the rain in the heat of the American desert. The show brings a relaxed version suitable for all and a special performance suitable for young people with profound and multiple learning abilities. (14 November).

The programme includes comedy performances from TV’s David Harper telling his Unexpected Tales of the funny world of TV, art and antiques (12 September). The District Zone Comedy Club also makes a welcome return, with North East stand up Gavin Webster joined by Jarrow’s own Lee Kyle as they straddle the line between the clever and the silly for a night of laughter (20 September).

Also returning is the popular Davy Lamp Folk Club, held at ACW on the first Saturday of every month and hosting a line-up of renowned folk artists: Anthony John Clarke, Huw Williams, Jens Kommnick with Tom McConville, and Dana and Susan Robinson.

Made for young people, by young people, the Sundown Takeover on 1 November promises a night to remember, full of cultural surprises and fun fuelled activities.

In the gallery, artists Rachel Cochrane and Maggie Hickman Smith present Women: Cartography – an exhibition bringing arts and science together in a creative response to the cellular pathology from their hysterectomy and mastectomy operations (27 September – 26 October). Inspired by Leonardo Di-Vinci, their work features a variety of creative techniques, from drawing with gall wood ink to digital photography and film.

This will be followed by the Washington Open Exhibition 2019, open to all artists of all abilities and disciplines. (15 November – 20 December).

Christmas sees a host of festive activities and events, from wreath making classes and a special film screening to a Christmas Cabaret.

On the 7 December, the Christmas Craft Fair will take over the Arts Centre – filling it with stalls that offer a variety of products made by local artists and craftspeople. With independent traders selling everything from jewellery, cards, bags, home baking and more, the fair is the perfect place to pick up some unique, hand-made Christmas gifts and treats.

For all the family, Jack Frost tells the tale of a little girl called Holly, who befriends a magical winter sprite and their adventure into his magical ice-covered world. A frost-filled, festive tale about friendship and the joy of joining in. (3 – 8 December)

An alternative to the standard festive cheer, Christmas Gothic offers a more chilling experience to scintillate the gooseflesh for dark Christmas nights. Resurrecting the Victorian tradition, Dyad Productions invites you in from the cold to present three haunting tales of the festive season. (13 December)

For more information on the programme, or to book tickets, visit or call 0191 561 3455

Sunderland’s local communities unite to celebrate culture and creativity

Community groups from across Sunderland came together last month to perform and share in a moving showcase of culture and storytelling.

The project, entitled Who Do You Want To Meet?, brought together six community groups, who had never previously met, to collaborate in creating a performance which was shared on 30 June at St Lukes, Pallion.

Delivered by Sunderland Culture, in partnership with North East arts organisation Helix Arts, the participatory project took place over eight weeks, during which the groups worked alongside professional artists to create their performances.

Hendon Writer’s Group, based at Back on The Map in Hendon, worked with asylum-seekers and refugees through community organisation Friends of The Drop-In (FODI). Local writer, James Whitman, supported participants in creating stories which celebrate the commonality of human experience across different cultures. Culminating in an audio installation, the project featured intimate, entertaining and emotional anecdotes and short stories exploring childhood, love and loss. 

Helix Arts’ Falling On Your Feet, a dance ensemble for people aged 65+ based at St Luke’s Neighbourhood Trust in Sunderland, joined forces with asylum seekers and refugees, who are part of the FODI weekly Women’s Group. Supported by artists Tracey West and Anna Hall, the pairing choreographed a contemporary dance performance, which explored the cultural and personal symbolism of scarves and veils.

Finally, Young Asian Voices paired up with the residents of Benedict Court Retirement Home. Together they are exploring a variety of arts activities and will share their work later in the year.

Corinne Kilvington, Producer for Who Do You Want to Meet? at Sunderland Culture, said:

“The evening was a truly wonderful celebration of shared creativity and everything the groups have experienced over the past eight weeks.

“By bringing together people from different communities, backgrounds and walks of life we wanted to tackle issues around social cohesion, in particular those who may feel isolated or excluded, using art as a universal language. 

“We had incredibly positive feedback from the participants, who found it both interesting and rewarding to meet individuals from different communities and to explore all the things we have in common despite generational and cultural differences. 

“The project was also hugely important for refugee participants in making introductions into the local communities, the new life ahead of them while also helping to improve practical language and writing skills.”

Partnering with Sunderland Culture, Helix Arts supported Who Do You Want To Meet? volunteers and partners through their Make Dance Happen – a ‘learning by doing’ programme that gives participants the skills, knowledge and networks they need to establish and run their own dance ensembles within their local community.

Helix Arts Creative Producer, Susie Batey, said: “The ensemble from St. Luke’s Neighborhood Trust have successfully delivered a number of dance classes for older people, helping participants improve their balance, flexibility and reduce fear of falling. With support from Sunderland Culture, they helped develop a piece of work especially for Who Do You Want To Meet?

“It’s great to see how far the group has come since completing Make Dance Happen.”

Who Do You Want To Meet? was delivered by Sunderland Culture through the Great Place programme, funded by Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund.



Young people in Sunderland will have the chance to add their voice to a playful and empowering mission to save the future when a sensational interactive video installation, Multiverse Arcade, arrives at Sunderland Culture’s Mackie’s Corner pop-up gallery from 25 May – 8 June.

‘What will you do when you’re in charge?’

Inspired by the belief that all young people should be able to answer this question, Multiverse Arcade begins with a machine playing a video message, from the year 2066, onto participant’s palms apologising for ruining the world. Using this thought-provoking question as a stimulus, Mackie’s Corner on High Street West, Sunderland, will be transformed into a headquarters of ideas, where opinions and voices can be expressed freely and recorded for the future.

Created by Unfolding Theatre, the installation at Mackie’s Corner will also feature the voices and views of young people from We Make Culture’s Young Musician’s Project who meet in Sunderland (Pop Recs) and have been working with Unfolding Theatre in the making of this event.

Multiverse Arcade inspires young people’s thinking about citizenship, while inviting them to explore and talk about social and environmental issues. It hopes to inspire and build young people’s confidence about the future roles they might take to influence change, through voting, volunteering and social action.

Using a specially created recording booth, young people can add their voices and opinions to thousands of others in a truly immersive experience. The booth generates a print-out of their sound wave, and a code to find their recording uploaded onto Instagram (@multiverse_arcade)

The event was part of last year’s Great Exhibition of the North and created with New Writing North’s Young Writers’ City at Excelsior Academy and Queen’s Hall Youth Theatre, with the aim to encourage young people to think about how they want to change the world.

Annie Rigby, Artistic Director at Unfolding Theatre, said:

‘I’m thrilled to be bringing Multiverse Arcade to Sunderland city centre and to give a voice to people here, who may have previously not had a chance to speak up about what they would change about the world and have it heard by a large audience.

‘Multiverse Arcade challenges  “Well, what are you going to do?” and we very much hope it encourages young people to feel that their voices and ideas can help make change happen.’

Multiverse Arcade is one of an ongoing series of pop-up exhibitions held at Mackie’s Corner, an iconic building in Fawcett Street, with the ambition to integrate culture into the city centre and bring spaces and buildings to life. The project is supported with funding from Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, through the ‘Unlock’ strand of Sunderland Culture’s Great Place programme.

Laura Brewis, Producer for the Great Place programme at Sunderland Culture, said:

‘Unlock aims to develop creative and cultural industries across the city,  providing support, skills and practice development, while creating opportunities for emerging artists to practice and develop in Sunderland.

‘We are really excited to see Multiverse Arcade transform the space at Mackie’s corner into a “headquarter of ideas” where young people in Sunderland can come and share their thoughts and ambitions and hear those of others.’

Multiverse Arcade in Sunderland is funded by Arts Council England, Virgin Money Foundation #iwill fund, Readman Family Grassroots Fund via Community Foundation.


Sunderland Stages Writers’ Project is a new citywide initiative from Sunderland Culture, developed with the support of the Great Place Unlock programme, aiming to develop talent and unlock potential in the Sunderland area.

Sunderland Stages Writers’ Project targets writers new to writing for theatre and aims to provide a ‘crash course’ in writing for the stage.
Participants can get involved with talks and workshops by established writers and theatre-makers and take advantage of opportunities for work to be professionally performed later on in the year.

Talks and Workshops

Venue – The Fire Station, High Street West, Sunderland, SR1 1DT
Series of dates/times.

View the current events available here.