The Cultural Spring is among the UK’s top 100 ‘changemakers’

The Cultural Spring team

THE Cultural Spring features in a list of 100 ‘changemakers’ predicted to make the world a better place in 2020.

Our project, which has been working to increase engagement in the arts and culture on Wearside and South Tyneside since 2014, is on The Big Issue’s Top 100 Changemakers list of ‘thinkers, creators and agitators who will change the world in 2020.’

The magazine said it wanted to celebrate the contribution to society made by some of the “awe-inspiring” people and groups working tirelessly across the UK.

Among those listed are Rutger Bregman, historian and author; Streetwise Opera; Geoff Horsfield, former Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion striker, and Darran Martin, founder of Homeless Rugby and Tiny Changes, the mental health support charity set up in memory of Scott Hutchison, frontman of the band Frightened Rabbit, who died by suicide in 2018.

Others include people campaigning against poverty and homelessness, and those helping refugees and asylum seekers.

Paul McNamee, editor of The Big Issue, said: “This is the second time we have dedicated an entire edition of the magazine to celebrating 100 awe-inspiring people and organisations who we believe are changing the world in significant ways and giving us all hope for the future.

“There are a host of categories, from those innovating in the field of tech to the formidable, often young, campaigners working to save our planet, to those focused on literacy and education, to people working to help refugees and asylum seekers, to name a few.

“They all deserve our attention and support for their tireless efforts to make a difference. These are the true champions of change in our society and The Big Issue is proud to shine a light on them.”

The Cultural Spring’s seasonal workshops, large-scale performances and support for community-based arts projects are funded through Arts Council England’s (ACE) Creative People and Places programme.

The citation for the project reads: “From workshops for young inventors to calligraphy and creative writing, The Cultural Spring is an organisation that has helped people in Sunderland and South Tyneside to experience, be part of and be inspired by arts and culture in every form.

“It has drawn audiences of over 11,000 to events and productions, and given 4,500 people the chance to get hands-on with arts in lively artistic workshops over the last 12 months.”

Cultural Spring Project Co-Director Emma Scarr said: “We’re very proud that the work we do in communities across Sunderland and South Tyneside has been recognised – and we’re honoured to be in such exalted company on the list.

“We passionately believe that the work we’ve been doing since 2014 has the power to change people’s lives, and whole communities and we’re excited to be actively planning what we’ll be doing in Phase 3 of the project, which starts in April. Watch this space!”

Graeme Thompson, Chair of The Cultural Spring Steering Group and Pro Vice Chancellor for Connections and Place at the University of Sunderland, said: “We are delighted to be

recognised among the top 100 changemakers. Over the past six years we have produced hundreds of events and workshops to bring artists, performers and musicians into our communities across Sunderland and South Tyneside.

“These have ranged from small classes learning calligraphy through to large scale participation events such as the Summer Streets festival in Sunderland and the spectacular dance experience Rush in South Shields. Getting involved in these arts activities has changed the ambitions and perspectives of so many people. So we’re proud to be seen as changemakers.”

Ernst & Young and Warwick Business School supported the latest edition of The Big Issue, which is sold by vendors to lift themselves out of poverty.

In September last year, The Cultural Spring was granted £500,000 to extend its work for a further three years. The project was given an initial £2m for its first three years and then successfully bid for £1m to deliver its second three-year phase in 2016.

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