The North East has long been characterised by the strength and breadth of its creative energy, spectacular live events and cultural venues.
This year is the start of a genuinely exciting three-year arts project in Sunderland and South Tyneside. The Cultural Spring, which won £2m from the Arts Council, will introduce a fantastic programme of new events in the city.
It will be launched on Good Friday with the Great North Passion, a BBC1 live broadcast from South Shields.
It is a dramatic, original retelling of the Passion Play, involving many local people and artists, which will be seen UK-wide.
I recommend you to go along to Bents Park to see it for yourself if you can.
My university, alongside Sunderland’s Music and Culture Trust and the Customs House in South Tyneside, are leading the Cultural Spring programme.
Tomorrow also sees the results of The Journal’s Culture Awards.
Finalists in the best arts and business partnerships include Pop Recs and Frankie & the Heartstrings, Port of Tyne & Live Theatre, and Wideyed and SCA, Prudhoe.
The lists of finalists across all categories proves how culturally vibrant our region is, with incredibly strong entrants from each area within the region.
The creative energy in the North East has long been a strong selling point.
The fascinating, eclectic mix of culture and arts is a honey pot for visitors and tourists.
The cultural renaissance of the region owes much to the long-term commitment of local businesses to fund, commission, host and employ North East-based artists.
When choosing a place to live, talented people are concerned not just with employment opportunities but with a welcoming, open culture that helps them pursue the kind of life that they’re looking for. The depth of cultural opportunities and events in the region makes a huge difference to the quality of life for all of us living and working here.
Creative momentum and economic prosperity are more closely aligned than many realise.
The Cultural Spring offers us a great opportunity over the next three years to build on the excellent work carried out by artists and musicians across the region.
It also gives us a chance to celebrate the Culture Awards for providing a platform to outstanding, innovative partnerships between business and artists, and for local companies who support some incredibly talented people.
Professor Bernie Callaghan is dean of the faculty of business and law at the University of Sunderland.