Wanted: CEO for Sunderland Culture

Published: 19 May 2021
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Sunderland Culture
Arts Centre Washington
The Fire Station
The National Glass Centre Credit: David Allen
Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

Sunderland Culture, which was set up in 2016 to bring together the cultural programmes of Sunderland City Council, the University of Sunderland and the Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust into a single, independent delivery organisation, is looking to appoint a new Chief Executive Officer to replace Keith Merrin, who left last month to become Director at Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums.

Sunderland Culture delivers the creative programme of the National Glass Centre, the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Arts Centre Washington and The Fire Station, as well as working with communities across the city. In 2018 Sunderland Culture became an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO).

Its mission is to improve life for everyone in the city through culture by improving the profile and reputation of the city, building a more vibrant creative economy, raising the aspirations of young people, improving health and wellbeing and creating a more socially cohesive city.

In 2019–2020, 800,000 people visited a Sunderland Culture venue or event and 63,000 took part in one of its programmes or projects. The organisation delivered 313 exhibitions, performances or events and worked with 375 volunteers.

“We want someone with energy, enthusiasm and an entrepreneurial attitude,” said Jane Earl, Sunderland Culture's chair. "The successful applicant will be able to demonstrate inspirational leadership and will have the experience, skills and ability to continue our successful and exemplar model of partnership working.

“We’ve launched a national recruitment drive, but we want someone who will understand and buy into the Sunderland partnership model—and they’ll also need to care deeply about the city. A passion for the arts is more important than deep experience of working in the sector, as the CEO sits alongside our Creative Director, who has vast experience. However, we’d expect a good degree of knowledge and an understanding of our curatorial approach in venues such as National Glass Centre and Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.

“Keith did a great job in establishing Sunderland Culture and making it work, and now we’re looking for his successor to take us forward to the next stage. The timing couldn’t be better as we’re busy preparing our next five-year strategy, The Fire Station Auditorium will open over the coming months and there is a vast array of outstanding arts and culture projects being delivered across the city.”

The deadline for applications is 5:00 on Wednesday 16 June. The first interviews will be via Zoom on Friday 2 July and the second interviews will be in Sunderland on Wednesday 7 July.

More information about the post and details of how to apply can be found on Sunderland Culture’s web site.