Culture meets commerce in new arts project

Gemma Dishman, of Sunderland BID

Gemma Dishman, of Sunderland BID

The worlds of commerce and culture will come together in a unique new arts project launched on Wearside.

Sunderland 10×10 will see ten artists work with ten city organisations in an initiative designed to foster new relationships and connections. Once selected and paired, the artists will spend a month-long residency at a business, working with them to develop an agreed project proposal that meet the firm’s objectives and develops the artist’s practice.

After the completion of this residency period, each of the artist/business partnerships will pitch their proposal to a Dragon’s Den-style panel for the chance to win a commission fund to realise the delivery of the proposal. Two projects will be commissioned for paid residencies.

Ten local businesses have already signed up for Sunderland 10×10, which is being delivered by Sunderland Cultural Partnership.

Now a call has gone out to local artists and creatives to get involved.

Helen Connify, Sunderland Cultural Partnership Co-ordinator, explained: “We’re interested in artists from across the region and from all types of artistic practices getting involved – including photography, new media, fine art, live art, glass and ceramics, music, dance and performance.

“Sunderland 10×10 will provide a great opportunity for artists to develop new work in collaboration with business partners. It will also demonstrate the contribution of the cultural sector to the regional economy while demonstrating the positive role played by Sunderland businesses in supporting culture in the city.

“This is particularly important as the city’s bid to become City of Culture 2021 moves forward.”

The ten businesses with whom the artists will work are Arc Adoption, Ashmore Consultants, Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID), FabLab, Leighton Group and the Mac Trust, Northumbria Water, SAFC, Siglion’s Investment and Development arms and Sustainable Enterprise Strategies.

Gemma Dishman, Marketing and Communications Manager at Sunderland BID, said: “We’re delighted to be taking part in such an innovative project. Sunderland’s cultural sector is building up a real momentum at the moment, and there are so many exciting possibilities.

“We think the businesses involved could learn to think more creatively through Sunderland 10×10, while the artists may well benefit by watching some of the city’s most successful organisations working at close quarters.

“As we see fantastic regeneration projects ongoing in the city centre, including High Street West and Keel Square, the bid is seizing the opportunity to reduce the number of vacant properties.

“The national average for vacant properties is 11.8%, Sunderland currently have 23%. The BID is looking for a creative solution to help us tackle this, which will hopefully feed into our other aims to have more workers in the city centre, more vibrancy and assist in putting Sunderland on the map.”

Suzy O’Hara, Artistic Curator for Sunderland 10×10, said: “It’s an exciting project which will create a lot of national interest. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the partnerships between artists and businesses evolve and how the pairings can help and develop each party involved.

“The sectors can learn so much from each other and this is a great way to connect the arts economy with the wider regional economy.”

Sunderland 10×10 will support the ten selected artists to prepare for their residencies by providing two workshops – one for the artists to learn more about the commercial context, and another hands-on session to explore the relationship between commerce and culture.

Helen added: “The programme is the first strand of 100 Artists into 100 Businesses, a key initiative of the North East Cultural Partnership, and we’re really grateful to Arts Council England, Creative Fuse North East and our partners Cultural Spring, Sunderland College and the North East Business Innovation Centre (BIC ). We’re also thankful to the businesses who’ve shown great support and innovative thinking.”

For more information click here

Sunderland Cultural Partnership is a collaboration led by the University of Sunderland, Sunderland City Council and Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, with support from Arts Council England, which brings together cultural organisations across the city. In 2014 it launched a new, shared vision for culture and has recently announced it will bid for the title of UK City of Culture 2021.

Other recent news

Award-winning TLC launch accessible short break service at Haven

May 19, 2022

Sunderland Business Festival recruitment fair announces two events

May 18, 2022

Hand sanitiser made by WL Distillery to join Science Museum Group’s collection

May 18, 2022

Sign up to our newsletter