Cultural view

Rebecca Ball, director of Sunderland 2021, shares her cultural highlights around the region

My favourite way of spending any spare time I have – that the children allow! – is by experiencing the fantastic range of cultural events we have in the region and the UK.

The last few weeks sums up the extraordinary choice of live events we can all enjoy.  I’ve seen talented local singer Nadine Shah, experienced highly emotive music at a Tchaikovsky Pathetique concert and gasped at the extraordinary abilities of Compagnie Dyptik dance company performing on a piece of scaffolding at the Freedom Festival.

There’s nothing as exciting as being involved with live events.  From huge, complex experiences that take months to organise, to the enjoyment of my Book Group, they all involve sharing and getting involved with arts and culture.  I’m absolutely passionate about all aspects of the arts, and we’re lucky to have so much to choose from on our doorsteps.

The creative energy in the North East has long been a strong selling point.  The fascinating, eclectic mix of culture and arts is a honey pot for visitors and tourists.  From the Baltic in Newcastle to the hugely popular Sunderland International Airshow, the region has a talent for creating memorable cultural events and attracting artists.

We live in a genuinely creative region.  To keep that innovative streak alive, we also need to keep people – like me – engaged in the excitement of experiencing music, dance, and arts as they happen.  The events I’ve seen fizz with originality, skill and ideas.

Creative momentum and economic prosperity are more closely aligned than many realise.

The ‘cultural renaissance’ of the region owes much to the long-term commitment of local businesses to fund, commission, host and employ North East-based artists.

So my work/life balance may be out of kilter in that arts and culture is the common theme, but I’m the richer for it. I believe the depth of cultural opportunities and events in the region makes a huge difference to the quality of life for all of us living and working here.

John Peel once said: “Sunderland is the new Manchester”.  If the fantastic events I’ve experienced this year are anything to go by, it’s evidence of the excitement we can all enjoy in a city of surprises.

Sunderland 2021