Street artists and performers of all kinds have been invited by Sunderland City Council to showcase their talents – the prize being a chance to entertain the public when the Tall Ships Race 2018 visits Sunderland. 

Successful applicants will have two opportunities to perform during the four-day event, which will be held between 11th and 14th July next year.

Thanks to a successful bid to Arts Council England, the organisers of The Tall Ships Race Sunderland 2018 are offering four artists the chance to develop a street art performance routine as part of the event’s cultural programme. 

The artists who are awarded one of these opportunities – known as Wearside Emerging Commissions – will be granted £2,500 and mentored by an experienced outdoor-arts professional. 

Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture, Cllr John Kelly, said, “We’re delighted to have been awarded £149,000 by Arts Council England to deliver an entertainment-packed programme when Sunderland plays host to the start of The Tall Ships Race Sunderland 2018 next July.”

“I’d like to thank them for supporting what we hope will be a spectacular event.” 

“With around 1.5 million visitors and up to 80 vessels with crews from 15 countries expected, the programme of live performance will give local performers a perfect opportunity to showcase their talents to the widest possible audience.”

Lord Nelson
The Lord Nelson, one of the tall ships expected to visit Sunderland (photo courtesy of Sail Training International)

The Wearside Emerging Commissions will provide a mixture of circus, dance, music and street arts as part of the Hendon Ahoy programme in Sunderland’s East End. The overall cultural programme of the Tall Ships Race will see performances at sites throughout the city. 

Cllr Kelly said, “These commissions are an important part of the overall entertainment programme and we’re hoping they will attract bids from performers across Sunderland.” 

“There are opportunities for performers from any genre including music, dance, short theatre pieces and circus, and I’d encourage anyone interested to get in touch with the team.”

Anyone who would like to apply for a Wearside Emerging Commission should send their submission to Helen Green at by 26th November, putting Wearside Emerging in the email title. Successful applicants will be notified by Christmas. 

In addition to the Wearside Emerging Commissions, there will be more opportunities for artists and musicians to perform at the Tall Ships Race. Bands, dancers, comedians, brass bands and school bands can apply to perform on one of two stages.

photo courtesy of jakerayfish1, from Flickr Creative Commons
Bands and other acts will be performing on two stages (photo courtesy of jakerayfish1, from Flickr Creative Commons)

The stages – in Keel Square and in the East End of Sunderland – will each be putting on entertainment between 10.00 am and 10.00 pm on Wednesday 11th, Thursday 12th and Friday 13th July. The Keel Square stage will also be providing entertainment between 10.00 am and 10.00 pm on Saturday 14th July. 

Submissions to perform on these stages should be sent to Sue Hurrell at by 8th December, putting Tall Ships Race Stage Programme in the email title. Successful applicants will be contacted by Christmas.

Anybody interested in finding out more can email either Helen or Sue before making their submission.

(Featured image courtesy of Stephen Wu, from Flickr Creative Commons)


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