Sunderland Culture today welcomed the Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer to The Fire Station in Sunderland. The Labour Party leader was in the city to launch Labour’s manifesto for this year’s council elections and was hosted by Paul Callaghan CBE, on behalf of Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West.
Rebecca Ball, Chief Executive of Sunderland Culture, said: “We’re delighted Sir Keir chose The Fire Station for this event and welcome the opportunity to showcase the city’s latest cultural venue.
“We are a city known for using the power of culture to regenerate, bring people together, boost the economy and improve wellbeing. Never has this been as important as we emerge into a post Covid world.
“The Fire Station is a perfect example of how Sunderland works closely in collaboration. The venue was developed, built and funded by the Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust and is run by Sunderland Culture, a unique partnership between the MAC Trust, University of Sunderland and Sunderland City Council.”
The state-of-the-art auditorium which opened in December 2021 was designed by award-winning architects Flanagan Lawrence and programmes music, theatre, comedy and dance. It can host up to 550 people seated or up to 800 people standing.
The auditorium is part of the £18m The Fire Station redevelopment that also incorporates bars, a restaurant, studios and an outdoor, 600-capacity performance space, due to open Summer 2022.
The first phase, the impressive £7m restoration and repurposing of the 1908 Fire Station and restoration of two listed public houses, has been completed with £2.9m funds from the National Heritage Lottery Fund, £320,000.00 from Sunderland City Council, and £3.3m from the privately owned, Leighton Group and the MAC Trust.
Phase two saw the £11m construction of the auditorium, thanks to a £6.3million grant from Arts Council England‘s Capital: Large Grants programme, funded by the National Lottery, and a £1.38m grant from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund. Further generous support came from Sunderland City Council, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, the Foyle Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation, the Backstage Trust and the Sir James Knott Trust.