Call out for Artists, Makers, Creatives for Set the Sails Project

Set the Sails – The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018

Using Sunderland’s historic shipbuilding past and the transition to a modern future as its central theme, The Cultural Spring is seeking to commission a number of artists, makers and creatives to work with a range of community groups to create a series of model boats that will be an integral part of The Tall Ships Races Sunderland in July 2018.

About Set the Sails

From 11th – 14th July 2018, Sunderland will welcome a majestic fleet of Tall Ships to take part in a colourful four day festival of culture and entertainment across the city, before they set sail in spectacular style to compete in the first leg of The Tall Ships Races 2018.

We have recently been awarded Strategic Initiative Budget (SIB) funding from Sunderland City Council to work in five areas in the east area of the City (Hendon, Millfield, St.Michael’s, Doxford and Ryhope). Additional funding has been secured from Arts Council England and a further call out for projects will be released in the coming weeks.

We are currently working with each area to identify the group we will be working with. Groups confirmed to date are:

  1. The Box Youth Project, Doxford – working with 13 – 14 year olds
  2. St.Mark’s Church, Millfield – working with a group of adults and older people
  3. Hopewood Park, Ryhope – an adult mental health service
  4. Thornhill School, St.Michael’s, in collaboration with Young Asian Voices working with 13 – 14 year olds
  5. Sangini Women’s Art group (SWAG), based at CHANCE, Hendon – a weekly women’s art group

The premise for the project is that the groups work with an artist to design a number of boats to scale, either individually or in teams. The boats can be made from any materials (wood, plastic, paper, cardboard, textiles), they can sail or not (for those that are made that do sail there may be an opportunity to sail them as part of the Tall Ships programme).

The project has funding for 20 sessions (based on 2 hour sessions, 40 hours in total), plus an opportunity to visit two points of interest, for example Sunderland Museum’s Port 300 Exhibition, Sunderland Maritime Heritage Centre and the Fab Lab.

We are flexible about how this time is planned in and would suggest that the appointed artist and groups agree this in collaboration with The Cultural Spring during their first meeting.

We are hoping that each artist/maker will work with approximately 15 people over the duration of the project and what we need are artists who can help people develop their ideas, designs and realise their own model boats.

Each group will take part in an intensive learning experience, play an important role in the forthcoming Tall Ships festival, develop practical ‘making’ skills.

It is projected that up to 80 model boats will be developed through this project, with an opportunity to name them after a ship on the Keel Line and being gifted to one of the visiting Tall Ships to take to their next location.

This project will culminate in all of the people involved being invited to take part in the Crew Parade on Thursday 12th July from the Port in Hendon to Keel Square in the City Centre. The boats produced will then be displayed in a prominent location.


To find out more on the project please download the application form HERE


  • Monday 23rd October – commission launched
  • Thursday 16th November 10am – Deadline for submissions (please send electronically to
  • Week of 27th November– Shortlisted artists invited for interview with the project groups and The Cultural Spring team.

Contact details

For further information, or to discuss a potential proposal, please email: or Mobile: 07469 030 256.