A heritage charity working to save Sunderlands historic Holy Trinity church from collapse and give it a new lease of life has launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise £20,000 in six weeks.
The 18th-century building is an important piece of Wearside history: as well as acting as a parish church it was also Sunderlands first public library, its Civic Hall and Magistrates Court and even housed the citys fire engine.
Today the Grade I listed Georgian building is at risk of being lost if swift action is not taken.
The race is on to fund ambitious plans to carry out structural work and transform the building into a centre for music, storytelling and events, with the help of national organisations and local people and partners.
The Churches Conservation Trust, the national charity that protects historic churches at risk, launched a public appeal last October that has already raised £30,000 to support the building. A further £1m has been pledged by local and national organisations.
The appeal now needs to raise a final £20,000 in the next six weeks to have a chance of unlocking £2.8 million of additional backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is hoped a new crowd-funding campaign entitled Send Love to Sunderland will help get the appeal over the line.
If funds are successfully raised, the building will be transformed into a community venue, creative centre and heritage attraction called The Canny Space. The centre will tell stories from 300 years of Sunderlands history through a programme of activities, events and exhibitions, and provide a space for making music, art and crafts for people of all ages.
Dave Stewart, the award-winning, Sunderland-born musician and producer, who backs the project, says: Its so important for cities to have places like The Canny Space, where people can get together to learn, to collaborate and to create. Its places like this that can really make good things happen.
To donate to the appeal visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-canny-space