The Cultural Spring Partners

The Cultural Spring has five core partners – the University of Sunderland; The Customs House, South Shields; The Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust; Sangini, a women’s health organisation, and The Cultural Spring Charity.

University of Sunderland

The University of Sunderland was established in 1901 as Sunderland Technical College, later becoming a polytechnic in 1969, before gaining university status in 1992. It has more than 17,000 students, including more than 2,500 international students from 118 countries.

Sunderland was one of six universities to be short-listed for University of the Year’ n the Times Higher Education Supplement Awards 2012.

Sunderland-born multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter Emeli Sande is the University’s Chancellor. She succeeded former Olympic athlete Steve Cram in 2019.

The university has two main campuses on Wearside and one in London, which was opened in April 2012 The university’s prestigious School of Medicine opened in 2019.

Its current Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive is Sir David Bell, who was appointed in 2018.


Customs House


The Customs House is South Tyneside’s premier arts centre. The building houses the borough’s only professional theatre, the local Learning and Participation team, a large gallery and a cinema.

The venue opened in 1994 after the original building was refurbished and extended and receives funding from South Tyneside Council and Arts Council England.

The theatre has 441 seats, while the studio theatre has 145. The Customs House also has its own restaurant and bar – the Green Room – and a large community room that hosts events for up to 100 people.


Sunderland Music Arts and Culture Trust


The Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture Trust aims to be a catalyst, developer and promoter of cultural activities within the city.

It will bring together people with ability, talent and ambition who share a vision for Sunderland’s future as a vibrant, creative and exciting place where the arts, music and culture flourish.

One of its projects aims to transform an historic area of the city into a Music, Arts and Cultural Quarter (MACQ).

This work would include the refurbishment of the Dun Cow, the city’s first Edwardian pub and the restoration and conversion of the Old Fire Station into a creative arts hub and performance venue.

A new theatre is currently being built adjacent to The Fire Station.


Sangini is a black and minority ethnic (BME) led, multicultural women’s organisation based in Tyne and Wear. They seek to improve the quality of women’s lives by increasing their physical, mental and spiritual health through educational, creative and participatory activities that also celebrate cultural diversity.

Our latest partner is The Cultural Spring Charity, a recently-created organisation (summer 2021) that will help us raise funds to further our work in Sunderland and South Tyneside.