Sunderland’s Brand New £18m Venue Announced Programme

The Fire Station in Sunderland is set to open its brand-new Auditorium on 10 December and with it comes an exciting launch programme of shows and performances.

The opening of The Fire Station’s auditorium is a pivotal moment in Sunderland’s cultural renaissance, bringing acclaimed national and international artists to the city as well as providing a platform for local and emerging artists to shine.

Tickets are on sale for the stunning new £18m venue’s opening programme which will run from December this year to next June and features more than 40 artists and performers – with yet more to be announced.

Tamsin Austin, Director of The Fire Station, said:

“It is so exciting to have a brand-new home for music and performing arts in the heart of Sunderland! We can’t wait to welcome people into what we hope will become a thriving community hub for audiences and for artists at The Fire Station. We are so very grateful to Paul Callaghan and all at the MAC Trust for their vision, passion, and determination to deliver this incredible new building for the city and to Arts Council England, Sunderland City Council and national and regional Trusts and Foundations, for all their support. We can’t wait to see you all in December!”

Kathryn Tickell and The Darkening will ignite the programme when they will be joined by special guest The Lake Poets for The Fire Station auditorium’s opening gig on Friday 10 December.

The Lake Poets said:

“Anyone who knows me or my music will understand how much I love and adore the history, heritage and people of my hometown. It’s what inspires me and my writing and it’s what makes me want to create. I’m so honoured to be the first act to play my hometown’s amazing new venue, and I couldn’t ask for a greater bill to be on. I’m so excited and I hope to see you there.”

Friday 17 December, will see the main event to officially open The Fire Station, when Mercury Music Prize nominees Field Music will present The Firestarters Revue, with a sensational line-up of guests including rising stars Martha Hill, Reali-T, Faye Fantarrow alongside Sunderland icons Barry Hyde and Ross Millard (The Futureheads) and Frankie Francis. Other performers for this very special housewarming for The Fire Station will be announced.

The Christmas season will come to a close with a party to end all parties with North East funk icons Smoove & Turrell on Sunday 19 December, fresh from their chart-topping seventh studio album, Stratos Bleu. The event will also include special guests the Voices of Virtue Gospel Choir, MC Kay Greyson and the Origin Crew dancers.

The Fire Station is an exciting new performance venue in the heart of Sunderland city centre. The Fire Station’s new, state-of-the-art auditorium will programme up to 300 events a year – in music, theatre, comedy and dance. It can host up to 550 people seated or up to 800 people standing, bringing acclaimed national and international artists to Sunderland, as well as showcasing emerging and established local performers. The Fire Station is operated by Sunderland Culture on behalf of Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust.  

Paul Callaghan, Chair of the Music, Arts and Culture Trust, the charity that led the building of the auditorium said:

“Wow, what a line-up to open this exceptional venue. We are extremely excited by the quality and variety of the performers who want to play in Sunderland. I’m particularly pleased that Field Music are bringing their friends to play in what promises to be a celebration of our city’s amazing music scene. The auditorium will not only feature established musicians, it will also be the springboard to stardom for our own aspiring talent.”

Funding for the £7m first phase of The Fire Station, the redevelopment of an Edwardian building into a bar and restaurant, studios and heritage exhibition, came from National Lottery Heritage Fund, Sunderland City Council and the Sunderland MAC Trust.  The Fire Station’s auditorium was developed as phase 2 thanks to a £6.25m award from Arts Council England‘s Capital: Large Grants programme, funded by the National Lottery, a £1.38m grant from the government’s Cultural Capital Kickstart Fund, and further support from Sunderland City Council, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, the Foyle Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation, and Backstage Trust

The Firestarters opening programme is commissioned by Sunderland Music Arts and Culture Trust and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

For more information about all events and to buy tickets head to or follow @FireStationSun.

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