Brims Construction has started work on a major new arts development in its home city of Sunderland as it looks forward to a busy 2020 with a strong order book of £20 million secured so far.

Paul Callaghan CBE, Chairman of Sunderland’s Music Arts and Culture Quarter (MACQ) trust, said Brims had won the tender to construct the city’s new arts auditorium based on its impressive track record.

The new £11m performance venue is at the heart of the city’s emerging cultural quarter, featuring retractable seating for 450 people with an 800-spectator standing area.

Mr Callaghan said “We are delighted to be working with such an excellent company as Brims. We’re confident that they will deliver a superb building that will be at the centre of the culture-led regeneration of Sunderland city centre.”

This will be the second, recent, high-profile job Brims has secured in Sunderland after completing the new £9.5m 25,000 sq ft headquarters of on-line gambling firm Tombola at Wylam Wharf.

Brims has experience in the arts arena with its £5.5m four-storey office scheme Live Works, a creative hub and outdoor performance space on Newcastle’s Quayside, being recognised as one of the UK’s best buildings, by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2016, and more recently as a BCO National Award winner.

Richard Wood, Director at Brims Construction, said: “It’s great to see the Brims’ team get to work on this key development for Sunderland’s arts and culture scene.

“We are a multi-faceted construction business with a team of excellent staff and are delighted to have secured the contract to deliver this new venue for our home city.

“As 2020 approaches we find ourselves in a healthy place as we continue to successfully navigate these uncertain business times. We find ourselves in a strong financial position and look forward to delivering on this, and other exciting projects, which will support the growth and development of the region’s economy, over the coming months.”

Other recent Brims contract awards include the £7m refurbishment of Neville Hall in Newcastle, as well works  at the Nissan Battery plant, Blyth Sports Centre upgrade, the St James Gate Office refurbishment and the Royal Grammar School 6th Form Centre.

The new MACQ auditorium is being built on a car park next to the the newly-restored Fire Station on the corner of Garden Place and Dun Cow Street.

It will complement the Fire Station and Empire Theatre as Sunderland’s ‘mid-size’ venue, say MACQ trust, which is behind the development.

The repurposed Fire Station opened last year as a cultural hub and restaurant.

The Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture Trust secured a £6.25m award from Arts Council England‘s Capital: Large Grants programme, funded by the National Lottery.

Award-winning architect Jason Flanagan has designed the auditorium. Mr Flanagan was a project director for the Sage in Gateshead.