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Sunderland’s new Fire Station appoints venue director

Tamsin Austin, head of contemporary music at Sage Gateshead (1,650-cap.) has been named venue director of the Fire Station, an £11m music and culture venue under construction in Sunderland, north-east England.

Austin has been with Sage for 17 years, booking more than 4,000 concerts, including Nick Cave, James Brown, Pet Shop Boys, Laurie Anderson, Sting, Roisin Murphy, MIA, Randy Newman and Solomon Burke, in that time. She is also the founder of SummerTyne, a popular 3,000-capacity Americana festival held in Gateshead since 2006.

“I am delighted to have been invited to lead the team at the Fire Station at such an exciting time for culture in Sunderland,” comments Austin. “I have watched the cultural landscape unfold in Sunderland over the past few years and there is a huge amount of energy, will and purpose there.

“It is an ambitious city with deep musical roots and a rich family of musicians, cultural leaders, entrepreneurs and audiences who are hugely invested in the new venue, which will become a new home and community hub for live music and arts in the heart of the city.”

“The Fire Station will become a new home and community hub for live music and arts in the heart of the city”

The Fire Station is part of a wider development of the same name which is transforming an Edwardian fire station in Sunderland’s High Street West into an “artistic and cultural hub”.  The complex also includes the Engine Room, a bar and bistro; a drama studio; a dance studio; and an exhibition space. Last month, it was announced the venue had been granted £1.38m from the UK government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

The main auditorium seats 460, with a standing capacity of 800; an outdoor performance space, meanwhile, will allow for socially distanced events. The venue will be run by Sunderland Culture.

Rebecca Ball, Sunderland Culture’s creative director, says: “Tamsin has unrivalled experience and networks in music. We’re thrilled she’s joining us.

“The Fire Station will be a major cultural asset for everyone in the city, and in Tamsin we have the right person to exploit its flexibility and ensure we have programmes to do the venue justice. This appointment, and the opening of the Fire Station, is another milestone in establishing the city as a major centre for arts and culture.”

The Fire Station is scheduled to open in autumn 2021.


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