We had originally planned to welcome everyone to Newcastle and Sunderland in May 2020, but Covid-19 unfortunately disrupted our plans. Between 4 September – 6 September we were finally able to host our partners here, as part of the final consortium meeting for the OpenHeritage project.

For the afternoon of 4 September, we organised a tour of projects of the Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust – Alderman Fenwick’s House, the John Marley Centre, and Dunston Staiths.

On 5 September we spent the day in Sunderland, beginning with the first part of the Consortium Meeting at 1719, a recently restored church within the East End of the city with a strong community focus. In the afternoon we showcased the Sunderland Cooperative Heritage Lab! An introductory talk by TWBPT Trust Manager and OpenHeritage project partner Martin Hulse was followed by a panel discussion in Pop Recs, with speakers from Historic England, TOWN, and Sunderland City Council, to share their experiences of the Historic England Heritage Action Zone partnership of which the Lab has been part, and discuss learnings from the Sunderland lab that will be taken forward into future regeneration developments within the area.

The last day, 6 September, was spent at the Star and Shadow Cinema, an adaptive reuse project situated to the east of Newcastle city centre. Following an opening tour and explanation of the grassroots history of the cinema and the bottom-up approach to the building of their new home, the second part of the Consortium Meeting took place, reflecting on learnings from the OpenHeritage project, as well as looking toward the future.

It was a truly wonderful few days, we’re so grateful that everyone was finally able to join us. We also can’t thank our wonderful hosts enough. Hoping to meet you all again in future endeavors.