Cultural boost to city’s regeneration 

November 1, 2017

Sunderland is vying to be named UK City of Culture 2021, as part of a raft of exciting ongoing investment projects and initiatives that are set to transform the city for visitors and locals alike

Culture is at the heart of Sunderland’s revival. It reflects the city’s innovative, entrepreneurial spirit and the remarkable range of opportunities offered to the people who live, work and visit the city.

It also lies behind Sunderland’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2021 – something that could boost the city’s economy by more than £100 million.

It is estimated that winning would bring a sustainable boost to the city’s cultural sector of at least 30 per cent, creating 150 new businesses and 750 jobs.

Becoming City of Culture would mean an estimated additional £80 million to Sunderland’s visitor economy, creating an additional 400 sustainable jobs.

And the budget for the project would include a programme of preparatory activities worth about £14 million and a legacy budget of more than £40 million, generating further economic impact in the city – Hull has seen a £3 billion boost since being announced as winner in 2013.

Vibrant city

Cllr Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, says: “There is a vibrancy about Sunderland, a sense that opportunities are there to be taken and a real feeling that people with ideas and determination can make it.

“From our cultural renaissance and infrastructure projects like the New Wear Crossing, the Vaux site and the regeneration of our seafront to the development of buildings like The Fire Station, we have the potential to achieve so much here; building on the significant assets of the city – its stunning physical attributes – due to is coastal location, and its city wide green spaces, its people and its rich heritage.”

Sunderland bid director Rebecca Ball adds: “These fantastic statistics show the sort of huge benefits we’d enjoy from a successful bid. It would boost the city economically, socially and culturally, and we’d also expect to see significant increases in levels of well-being, confidence and pride.

The UK City of Culture bid is an opportunity for Sunderland to establish itself as a national centre for arts, heritage and culture. A successful UK City of Culture bid would kick-start a four-year period of growth, innovation and creativity and culminate in a year of exciting cultural and artistic events.

The bid has been overseen by Sunderland Culture, supported by partners Sunderland City Council, the University of Sunderland and Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (Mac) Trust.

Economic boost of record numbers of visitors


Sunderland will also welcome the Tall Ships Races to the city in 2018 that will boost visitor numbers significantly.

Last year 8.24 million people visited Sunderland – a three per cent increase on 2015. They spent almost £400m in 2016 during their time in the city, benefitting shops, hotels and leisure sectors, and adding to the dynamism of the city.

In July 2018, the Tall Ships fleet will create a stunning spectacle on the banks of the River Wear and within the port of Sunderland. The event is expected to bring a 1.5million extra visitors to the city.

The growing importance of tourism to Sunderland is reflected in the almost 5000 tourism-related employees working in the city.

Creative and digital sectors

Sunderland is known as an outward-looking international city. Its well-established position on the global map is not only boosted through its strong automotive and manufacturing industries, but increasingly by its software and creative sectors.

A Digital City of Culture Sunderland will lead the way in the use of digital technology across the year as UK City of Culture. Sunderland is one of four Digital Catapult Centres in the UK and has one of the country’s fastest-growing digital tech sectors.

The Tech Nation report 2017 confirms that Sunderland is one of the best places in the UK to start and grow a digital tech business. It reports that the turnover of the city’s digital tech businesses grew by 101 per cent between 2011 and 2015, and supports over 5700 jobs.

Home to over 220 software firms and the first UK city to offer blanket superfast broadband, Sunderland’s tech sector is strong in terms of size, reputation and competitiveness. A recent report by Nixon Williams has shown the North East is second only to London for growth in the number of tech companies, with a 9.2 per cent increase in the last year.

International advanced manufacturing park

The proposed International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), a project of ‘national significance’ being brought forward by Sunderland in partnership with South Tyneside, is predicted to deliver over £300m of private sector investment. This will attract new businesses, including European-scale ‘super suppliers’ linked to the automotive, energy, low carbon, logistics and offshore manufacturing industries, and create an additional 5200 jobs in the city.

IAMP’s associated benefits of investment in research and development, innovation and people will be felt throughout the North East region and the UK. It will be a catalyst for major growth and will create many highly skilled jobs in the knowledge economy.

Sunderland’s focussed approach on building a globally competitive, highly productive economy with innovative companies will see its worldwide position strengthen in years to come.

The inventive, creative spark that drives Sunderland to success will be set alight with a winning bid for UK City of Culture.

To find out more about Sunderland’s bid for UK City of Culture go to
For more about Sunderland as a business location contact or call 0191 561 1194
MAKE it Sunderland is delivered by Sunderland City Council

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