Metro Community Takeover – Commission Brief

1. Introduction

The Cultural Spring are working in partnership with Nexus to celebrate 40 years of the Metro. We are seeking to commission an artist, arts or creative organisation to develop new pieces of visual art works for three South Tyneside Metro Stations: Bede, Chichester and Hebburn.

About the Cultural Spring

In mid-2012, a small consortium of organisations – the University of Sunderland , the Sunderland Music, Arts & Culture (MAC) Trust and The Customs House Trust – came together to create a 10-year vision to radically change the way that people in South Tyneside and Sunderland consume, experience, influence and make great art. In short, this vision is for a cultural renaissance, our ‘Cultural Spring’.

Our vision is to establish a new cultural ecology and a new cultural calendar for Sunderland and South Tyneside. A cultural ecology and calendar that open doors to all art forms, encourage everyone to get involved, provides opportunities for people to experience new things, discover new passions, and learn new skills.

Our aims are;

  1. Increase participation in our wards
  2. Enable excellent art to happen in our wards
  3. Create a lasting social and cultural legacy for Sunderland and South Tyneside
  4. Reflect and share learning

2. The Commission

We are looking to engage one creative practitioner, artist, illustrator or organisation to co- create between 6-12 new pieces of artwork (2-4 per station) with communities. These will be displayed in Perspex display boards on the Metro platforms within Bede, Chichester and Hebburn stations.

We are looking for a creative who will engage local people in this project through community engagement sessions and sessions in schools. This project is about working together to co- create the final pieces of work that will be displayed.

The artwork will be displayed in the Perspex display cases and they are all standard size 1730 x 845mm or 68.1 x 33.3ins.

The budget needs to include all time spent meeting and facilitating workshops and developing the artworks to final design stage. At which point the digital files will be given to Nexus so that the artwork can be printed.

We are open to joint submissions from creative practitioners, artists and/or illustrators to come together and work with participants from each of the three stations.

The Cultural Spring team will work with the successful artist / organisation and support the booking of venues for sessions / liaising with schools and marketing and promotion of the sessions and project in general. The contract and payments will be done through The Cultural Spring’s lead body – the University of Sunderland.

3. Commission Budget*

£7,000 in total. We expect the appointed artist to deliver a minimum of 12 days worth of engagement sessions or 24 half day sessions as part of this project between February and April 2022 with communities, including schools surrounding the relevant Metro stations.

*The commission budgets are inclusive of materials for the engagement sessions, VAT, travel and any other expenses. Room hire, marketing and publicity will be provided by The Cultural Spring and our project partners. The printing of the final artworks will be undertaken by Nexus.

4. Specification

Through this commission we hope to achieve:

  • High quality, ambitious engagement with participants, creating work with strong artisticintegrity.
  • A strong connection to our communities; responding to stories, everyday realities, places, people, histories, hopes and ambitions.
  • An opportunity for local people to see their ideas and stories be brought to life through the visual arts.
  • Innovative approaches to building relationships and engaging participants.
  • Create inspiring artwork.We have undertaken an initial consultation process that has enabled us to identify local people who will be part of decision making for the final artist and this includes children and their grown-ups as well as identifying key venues and schools for the engagement work. This includes Café at the House, Hospitality and Hope Wellbeing Hub, Perth Green Community Centre, Monkton Academy and St. Aloysius RC Primary School, there will be other schools and venues joining the engagement sessions.Questions asked included:
  • What would Metro look like in 40 years time? What would Metro’s actual birthday party look like?
  • What has been your most memorable journey on the Metro?
  • Which famous person / person from history would you like to sit next to on the Metro?
  • What memorable place or event did a Metro journey get you to?

We have received responses with many people referencing journeys with grandparents, friends, school trips using the Metro, going to the football match, using the Metro to go to the seaside. The ideas for what the Metro will look like in 40 years-time, includes floating trains, colourful trains on two levels, computers at each seat, faster and the people that some said they’d like to travel with have included Julius Caesar, Santa, Prince Harry and Meghan and Elvis Presley. This information (anonymised) can be made available to any interested artists to help with your proposal.

5. Timeline

  • Commission launched Monday, December 6 2021
  • Deadline for Submissions Monday, January 10 2022 at 5pm. Submissions to beelectronically emailed to
  • Shortlisted Artists will be interviewed Monday, January 17 2022.
  • Commission commences late January 2022.
  • Final artworks digital files sent to Nexus by April 11, 2022.To apply please send the following in either:

1) a single PDF document or
2) a video sent via WeTransfer or a Dropbox link and should b e amaximum of three minutes to including the reference:
Artworks in the Stations in your email.

Please describe your idea and approach to this Commission (max 1000 words) include the following:

  1. Describe your approach to building partnerships and developing meaningful engagement with communities, including the schools close to the stations.
  2. How will you engage people and encourage them to collaborate with you on the artwork?
  3. Please give a brief biography (max 200 words) of your work and for any other artists/illustrators that will be involved with you in this commission
  4. Please attach a proposed timeline (include the contact days/workshops with the participants, planning, evaluation and visits)
  5. Please attach a detailed budget
  6. Please confirm that you have Public Liability Insurance cover of up to £5 million. Anenhanced DBS clearance will need to be in place (If you do not have an up to dateDBS clearance this will need to be in place, if you are awarded this commission)
  7. Please also send us a completed Equal Opportunities Form, using this link:
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7. Selection

Through the application process we will assess the following –

  1. Quality and ambition of the artistic approach
  2. Quality of approach to engagement with participants and your track record in this
  3. Feasibility and deliverability
  4. Value for money

Only shortlisted artists will be invited to interview. Shortlisting and interviews will be done via a community decision making panel.

8. Contact details

For further information, or to discuss a potential proposal, please contact The Cultural Spring Email:
Please note that, the office will be closed Friday, December 17 2021 – Tuesday 4 January 2022