Young people in Sunderland plan own event celebrating difference

A group of young people in Sunderland have been given the chance to plan, curate and deliver their own event at Arts Centre Washington.

Recruited by Sunderland Culture earlier this year as young ambassadors to help shape the cultural future of the area, the event will be the first significant project for the team, who are all aged between 13 and 25.

Taking place on Friday 1 November (6.30pm-9pm), Celebrate Different is a FREE event exploring themes impacting many young people today, including body positivity, identity, gender, race, and culture through specially commissioned artworks made by professional artists.

Taking over the entire Centre, the event is aimed at young people and will be full of things to experience, do and see, including performances, music and visual art. 

Over the summer, Sunderland Culture’s Young Ambassadors have been working with North East arts organisation, Helix Arts, through its Make it Happen programme to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to plan, fund and co-produce events, exhibitions, festivals and projects in their own communities.

Cheryl Gavin, Senior Project Manager at Helix Arts, said:

 “Our Make it Happen programme is about giving people the skills to deliver ambitious and exciting arts events where they live.

“The Sunderland Young Cultural Ambassadors are a creative and talented group, who are keen to explore issues that affect many young people by working with artists and performers.

“Through Make it Happen, we were able to equip them with everything they need to deliver their own arts event; everything from looking after budgets, fundraising, commissioning to appointing artists and event planning.”

Rebecca Ball, Creative Director, Sunderland Culture, said:

“It’s hugely important to empower young people in Sunderland and to give them a voice on what kind of events or culture they want to see and experience in their area.

“The team have been working incredibly hard over the last few weeks and we encourage everyone to come along to Arts Centre Washington on the 1 November to join the celebration!” 

Julia, aged 14 from High Barnes, a Sunderland Culture Young Ambassador Team member, said:

“These projects are great for young people, as it gives them a set of life skills that are so, so important if you want to go into the Arts. By young people getting involved in this sort of thing, it’s helping to give us a really powerful voice and way of expressing our ideas.

“It’s not every day that a group of young people run and organise an event of this scale, so we’d love everyone to come along, celebrate with us, and have a good time!”

The event has been made possible thanks to funding from Culture Bridge North East and Hays Travel.

Tickets for the event are free but can be pre-booked from or by calling Arts Centre Washington’s box office on 0191 561 3455.

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