Artists are working on three major performances to help Sunderland take a small step closer to normality after months of Covid restrictions.

Here’s everything you need to know about the latest art performances planned from Sunderland Culture… 

Featured image: Hover Media & Sunderland Culture


Unlocking the doors to the city’s post pandemic future… 



Three performing arts commissions have been awarded through Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants for a project called Unlocking the Doors: New Combinations. 

The commissions are aimed at capturing the hopes and anticipation of audiences as the pandemic restrictions are gradually eased.

The commissions were won by Southpaw Dance Company, theatre company The Six Twenty and Tiny Dragon Productions. Each organisation is now working with artists and film companies to add a digital element to the shows.

The first of the three performances will be Space Camp … Hylton, We Have a Problem, delivered by Tiny Dragon working with film company Candle and Bell. 

The 20-minute video performance will be delivered eight times a day in a shipping container based on Marine Walk, Roker (starting Tuesday, August 3).

Featuring up-and-coming Sunderland actress Lauren Waine the video was sparked by a bizarre contract detail from former SAFC player Stefan Schwarz – who was barred by the club from going into space!


Helen Green, Head of Performance at Sunderland Culture, explained: 

“The first of our three Unlocking the Doors commissions, Space Camp, is literally about escaping from Sunderland on a spaceship.

“It reflects a sense of relief at the thought of being able to travel wherever you want to go again. 

It’s a quirky, imaginative piece, a 360-degree visual and sound experience that will get audiences reflecting on what it has been like being constrained in the same place for so long.

“Audiences will also discover New Sunderland on planet LV246.”

Helen added: “We’re very excited to be welcoming live audiences but we know we are not out of the clutches of Covid yet, and the way we present the performances will reflect that.

“We are working hard to ensure audiences, artists and our own team feel able to take part safely and with confidence, so we will be encouraging our audiences to wear masks and maintain social distance where possible, particularly while we’re seeing such sharp rises in infection rates in the area.


Space Camp will have audiences of six at a time and will run until Sunday, August 15. Tickets will cost £5, available from the Sunderland Culture website –


Next up? A special, one-night only event at Independent… 

The next Unlocking the Doors performance will be Club Six Twenty, a collaboration between theatre company The Six Twenty and artist Ronan Devlin. 

This will be a one-night only event at Independent nightclub on Holmeside, Sunderland, on Thursday, August 26.


Helen explained: 

“Club Six Twenty will be a live, lovingly recreated homage to the 90s rave scene featuring hugely popular band Picnic as the headliner. 

There will be other musicians, dancers and digital artists including a digital installation from Sunderland artist Jo Howell and a chill-out room upstairs complete with a digital wall created by Ronan Devlin.

“Club Six Twenty is a celebration of what we’ve been missing during the lockdowns and months of Covid restrictions and closures.”


Tickets will cost £10 and again can be bought through Sunderland Culture’s website. Numbers will be restricted to allow for social distancing within Independent.


An unmissable Bank Holiday performance… 



The following evening, Friday, August 27, will see the first of several Bank Holiday weekend performances from Southpaw Dance Company and light artist Rupert Stamp at The Athenaeum in Fawcett Street, Sunderland.

Helen said: 

“Sunderland audiences may remember Southpaw’s performance of Faust on top of the St Mary’s Car Park back in 2016. Acedia will feature a single dancer performing in the brilliant Athenaeum space. 

The audience will then be able to see the dancer multiply and perform a wider and wider piece through their phones and tablet devices.

“Acedia will also feature music, with lyrics being streamed on to the venue’s walls.

Audiences will be restricted to 35 each performance and tickets will go very quickly – Southpaw has a national reputation for its indoor and outdoor spectaculars.”


Tickets for Acedia will cost £8 and are available now from Sunderland Culture’s website.

For more information, go to or keep an eye on Sunderland Culture’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.


Which culture performance are you most looking forward to? Get in touch online. Twitter: @SunderlandVibe, Instagram: @SunderlandVibe, Facebook: @SunderlandVibe.

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