Plans to relocate National Glass Centre draws negative reaction from locals

Written by on 10th February 2023

Local residents have expressed concerns over the future of the National Glass Centre after reports of it relocating.

The National Glass Centre
Image Credit – Bethany Jones

Following a specialist external review, it’s been determined that £45million of repairs need to be carried out on the National Glass Centre (NGC), leaving the future uncertain for the building which locals have hit back at.

Despite the university announcing a £250million investment plan, this budget is not being put towards the costly repairs for the Glass Centre, which locals and tourists believe is taking away from the glass-making heritage and taking jobs off of people.

Joanne Howell, Sunderland photographer, said: “I’m devastated. I have had a wonderful long working relationship with the Glass Centre as a professional photographer, and as a workshop facilitator.

“My husband is a glass blower and the reason he decided to stay in Sunderland was the NGC had glass facilities that artists could hire.”

Image Credit – Jo Howell Photography

The University’s Board of Governors came to the decision to not fund these repairs as they believe that the best way forward is to find another suitable location for the venue.

The Glass Centre opened in 1998 but has been owned by the University of Sunderland since 2010 and is also home to the National Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA).

Sir David Bell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sunderland, said: “The University is currently exploring the possibility of moving the current NGC activities to an alternative venue.

“We hope that this will be possible as it will complement the continuing regeneration of the city of Sunderland and preserve the great work done within the NGC over many years.”

The University is working alongside Sunderland Culture and Sunderland City Council and they are looking into the building being moved to Culture House, which will sit at the heart of Riverside Sunderland in Keel Square and recognise the rich history culture that the city has to offer.

It’s believed that the University hope to make this transition within the next three years, but until then the centre will continue to operate as normal for visitors and employees.

The centre welcomes over 230,000 visitors per year, with Rachel Smith being appointed as director of the National Glass Centre in 2021.

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