SUNDERLAND’S business community has welcomed the latest addition to the city’s cultural venues.

The Fire Station Auditorium, located next to Sunderland Empire in High Street West, will open for business in December and the £18m venue’s opening programme was revealed earlier this month.

Ellen Thinnesen, Chair of Sunderland Business Partnership and Chief Executive of Education Partnership North East comprising Sunderland College, said: “It’s such a great time to be in Sunderland and the Fire Station is helping bring excitement back into the city centre and boost an area that boasts fantastic businesses and historic buildings.

Read more: Sunderland venue set for first gig

“When the auditorium opens and residents and visitors come to enjoy the incredible line up of events, it will naturally support the surrounding restaurants and bars, and indeed will create more opportunities for fresh creative talent to take to a stage – it will be hugely positive for our city centre economy, as well as developing artists.”

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID, said: “Sunderland’s cultural vibrancy is growing and the new auditorium will attract music, theatre and comedy acts looking for a state-of-the-art venue from which to perform.

“It’s a huge boost for the city centre, and will provide an important boost to business owners in the surrounding area, making this beautiful quarter of the city an even more attractive environment for visitors and residents to spend their time.”

Jason Flanagan, Design Director at Flanagan Lawrence, the architects behind The Fire Station Auditorium, said: "The development of the Fire Station has been the main driver for the regeneration of the cultural quarter and forms a calm backdrop to the historic buildings surrounding it.

“Internally, the auditorium was designed to be as flexible as possible. It can accommodate audiences of up to 550 people seated or 800 people standing, in a variety of layouts."

Coun Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The Fire Station Auditorium is a fantastic venue and we’re thrilled that we’re close to seeing this community hub prepare to open its doors. It will bring audiences and artists together, while uplifting both the daytime and evening economy in a reinvigorated part of our city centre.

“The arrival of the auditorium will address the city’s need for a mid-sized, specialist music and performance venue and will be a cornerstone of the Music, Arts and Cultural Quarter that is currently being developed in the city centre. 

“Sunderland is undergoing significant transformation and as the city skyline is changing with new, contemporary architecture rising from the ground and much-loved period buildings being restored to highlight the beauty of Sunderland’s heritage, we hope residents and visitors alike will enjoy this exciting new cultural quarter.”

Paul Callaghan, Chair of the Music, Arts and Culture Trust, the charity that has built the auditorium and the wider Fire Station development, highlighted the positive impact it will have on Sunderland: “We expect the Fire Station to attract more than 100,000 visitors a year to see a show or to enjoy the wonderful hospitality offered in its bars and restaurant.

“This will provide a significant boost to the local economy and our estimates are that people will spend more than £5m a year on tickets, food and drink and overnight stays. With the new Holiday Inn on Keel Square and the city’s existing hotels, visitors from outside the area will see the city as an ideal weekend destination where they can see a show at The Fire Station or the Empire, enjoy the city’s restaurants and bars and visit our magnificent coastline.

“Not only will this bring new visitors to the city, it also makes Sunderland not just somewhere to enjoy a great night out but also a more attractive place to live, work and study.

“By next spring The Fire Station, as part of this £18m development, will have the auditorium, Engine Room, dance, music and theatre studios and the outside Parade Ground all operational and will employ about 100 people in a range of roles. It will be a place where talented and creative people want to be.”


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054