Countdown to artistic ′Dragon′s Den′

03 June 2016

The countdown to a Dragon’s Den-style culmination of a Sunderland arts project is underway.

Last month ten Wearside organisations were paired with ten regional artists for the Sunderland 10x10 project, designed to foster new relations, connections and creativity. Since being partnered, the artists have spent month-long residencies at their respective businesses, working with them to develop an agreed project proposal.

Now the countdown is on as the residency period nears its end and the partnerships prepare to present to a ‘Dragon’s Den’ panel to win one of two commission funds worth £7,500 each on June 14.

The project has been delivered by Sunderland Cultural Partnership.

The artist/business partnerships are:
• Ashmore Consulting and artist/writer Stevie Ronnie
• SAFC and artist/ceramicist Chris McHugh
• Arc Adoption and artist/author/illustrator Anne Curtis
• Northumbrian Water and creative theatre company Theatre Space North East
• FabLab and musician and artist Tim Shaw
• MAC Trust and artist David Lisser
• Sunderland BID and artistic Community Interest Company (CIC) Breeze Creatives
• Siglion, who are sponsoring two artists, one through its development arm and another through its investment arm and glass artist Erin Dickson and artist and curator Dominic Smith
• Sustainable Enterprise Strategies (SES) and artist/writer Rachel Magdeburg

Corinne Kilvington, Artistic Director of Theatre Space North East, has thoroughly enjoyed her time working on a project with Northumbrian Water: “Everyone here has been so warm and welcoming, it’s been a real pleasure – and I’m delighted with the way the project is coming together.”

The project they’re working on involves getting a message across to local communities about an £8m sewer network upgrade in north Sunderland.

Cara Charlton, Assistant Media Manager at Northumbrian Water, explained: “We wanted a creative way of explaining to the communities how reducing the amount of surface water entering the sewers will free up capacity within the pipes. The message had to work specifically in schools. We were really impressed by Corinne’s response – workshops and a piece of theatre – and staff from most departments within the company have contributed to the process.

“We’re a company who’ve always been really keen to support the cultural agenda, so this wasn’t something alien to us – it’s also been a great way to encourage our employee engagement.”

“The beauty of our project is that it is scaleable and will work in other areas of the country and on other projects.”

Whereas Northumbrian Water is a big company with a track record of engaging in cultural projects, Arc Adoption in Sunderland were completely new to this sort of initiative.

However, Arc Business Manager Sue Holton, said they’d enjoyed working with artist and author Anne Curtis: “It’s been an interesting process and we’re certainly thinking more creatively thanks to her input.

“We wanted Anne to help us think about how to attract more people to adopt youngsters who are perhaps harder to place. For instance, they maybe a bit older or they may have siblings.

“We held a couple of workshops and Anne has been developing a response from the child’s point of view.”

Anne added: “I’ve created a storyboard for an animation about a character who feels a bit alien to those around him. He starts life in a plant pot, but is nurtured to develop fully – it’s an allegory for a young child being nurtured and looked after properly. The story develops as the character grows until official adoption day when he leaves the plant pot – fully developed.

“I’ve really enjoyed the project and what’s been interesting to me is the collaborative process. It was absolutely imperative that this was a team approach and that is exactly what has happened.”

Terry Fitzpatrick, Director at Arc, said: “Anne’s work has made us think differently, especially thinking about the child’s voice in the process of adoption. She grasped very quickly the message we wanted to get over and came up with an imaginative response.”

Helen Connify, Sunderland Cultural Partnership Co-ordinator, said: “It’s great to hear the partnerships are getting on so well and they’re so focused on their projects. We have a super panel of judges who I know are looking forward to June 14.”

The panel will include Professor Roy Sandbach, Director of the National Centre for Ageing Science and Innovation and Paul McEldon, Chief Executive of the North East Business Innovation Centre (BIC) and Helen Green, Creative Director, Arts Centre Washington.

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.

Sunderland 10x10 is the first strand of 100 Artists into 100 Businesses – a key initiative of the North East Culture Partnership. The project has been supported by Creative Fuse North East, the Cultural Spring, Sunderland College and North East Business Innovation Centre.

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COUNTDOWN TO DECISION DAY … Corinne Kilvington and Cara Charlton, from Northumbrian Water

IMAGINATIVE RESPONSE TO CHALLENEGE … Anne Curtis with some of the Arc Adoption team

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