City-wide Cultural Conversation

10 March 2021
Via Zoom

Sunderland Culture is excited to be hosting our second City-wide Cultural Conversation!

It’s been a challenging year for the cultural sector since out last City-wide Cultural Conversation in February 2020, and this event is an opportunity for the cultural community of Sunderland and beyond to get together and share, reflect and discover.

With a theme of Resilience, we’ll be joined by three fantastic speakers who will give a mini-keynote exploring the topic:

Mark Robinson (Thinking Practice): “Tactics for The Tightrope”

Mark will speak about creative resilience in creative communities and how to build it as resistance to hierarchy, inequality and irrelevance.

Leila D’Aronville (Tyne and Wear Cultural Freelancers): From Surviving to Thriving”

Leila will explore the effects of the last year on freelancers and independents and why we don’t want to go back to “normal”. She will also use mini-films to amplify voices from across the freelance network.

Susanne Burns: “Resilience Before COVID-19 and Post COVID-19”

Susanne will explore what we have learned in the last year, what we might take forward and what we might leave behind.

Participants will then have times to discuss the provocations through Q&A and in smaller groups, and plan the next steps for the city and beyond.

This workshop is offered as part of the Unlock the City programme which supports the development of artists and creative businesses in Sunderland. Unlock the City is delivered in partnership by Sunderland Culture, Sunderland City Council, Digital Catapult, North East BIC and Sunderland BME Network, with funding from Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund through the Great Place Programme, and Coastal Communities Fund.

 Schedule for the session

1pm-1.10pm: Introduction from Sunderland Culture’s Creative Director, Rebecca Ball
1.10pm-1.40pm: Mini-keynotes:

  • Mark Robinson
  • Leila D’Aronville
  • Susanne Burns

1.45pm-2pm: Q&A with delegates and speakers 


2.10pm- 2.40pm: Break-out rooms for discussion
2.40- 2.50pm: Sharing of group discussion
2.50- 3pm: Planning of next steps with Sunderland Culture’s Creative Director, Rebecca Ball

3pm-4pm: Informal online “social”

About the Speakers
Mark Robinson, Thinking Practice

Mark Robinson founded Thinking Practice in 2010, through which he writes, facilitates, coaches and advises across the cultural sector. His most recent publication is Multiplying Leadership in Creative Communities, commissioned by Creative People and Places, be published in 2020. Future Arts Centre will publish a book in Spring 2021, Tactics for the Tightrope: Creative Resilience For Creative Communities. 

Mark was previously Executive Director of Arts Council England, North East, having joined Northern Arts as Head of Film, Media and Literature. He has also run festivals, poetry publishers, community arts programmes and worked in adult education. Before all that, he had a successful career as a vegetarian Head Chef. Mark is also a widely anthologised and translated poet whose Selected Poems, How I Learned to Sing was published by Smokestack in 2013. His poem The Infinite Town is carved on a big plinth on Stockton High Street. He lives in Preston-on-Tees, a few miles away.

Leila D’Aronville
Tyne and Wear Cultural Freelancers is an organisation and network putting freelancers at the heart of the conversation. Founded by Leila in 2019, it has grown quickly to be a thriving network of over 1500 members, providing mutual support, development opportunities and advocating for the sector.

Join Tyne and Wear Freelancers here:
Find Tyne and Wear Cultural Freelancers on Twitter: @TWCFreelancers

Susanne Burns
Susanne Burns has worked in the arts and cultural sector since the mid 1980’s at a senior leadership level both in employed roles and as an independent. She started her career teaching dance in Washington and then joined Northern Arts in 1985. She has directed her own consultancy since 2004 and previously worked in senior management for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and FACT Liverpool and was Head of Enterprise at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts as well as leading an MA Cultural Leadership at LJMU. Her current portfolio includes providing evaluation support for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Sage Gateshead, National Glass Centre, MiMa, Ballet Cymru, Fevered Sleep, the Co-Creating Change Network and she has led the evaluation of the In Harmony Liverpool programme since 2009. She is currently a Visiting Professor at the University of Sunderland, has a D Prof from Middlesex University and is a qualified coach, mentor and Action Learning Facilitator. She lives in Sunderland and is a mother of two incredibly resilient young women.