Sunderland music hub expands online offering

The Bunker is a music facility in Sunderland that sits at the heart of the local community. With a 40-year history in the city, The Bunker offers music training, tuition, performance spaces, recording studios, and it also runs a small record label. People of all ages use its facilities and The Bunker is seen as an important creative outlet for the youth of Sunderland – including those who are vulnerable or have additional needs.

Like all other businesses, The Bunker was forced to close in March 2020.

There started to be increased demand from The Bunker’s users to access online services during lockdown – including tuition and one-to-one learning. Live streaming also became very popular during lockdown and this was something The Bunker wanted to provide.

Because the organisation hadn’t delivered online services before, it didn’t have the existing IT or infrastructure to deliver it effectively.

The Bunker applied for support from the North East Business Support Fund (Restart & Recovery/Kick-starting Tourism), which is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund and supported by the Northern Powerhouse. It was awarded a grant of £2,960.83.

The grant enabled The Bunker to begin an online learning programme by investing in better IT equipment. The organisation was able to deliver online lessons to music students and post high-quality tutorials via The Bunker’s social media platforms.

It was also able to begin live streaming from the recording studio – something The Bunker had never done before.

Many people that attend group workshops at The Bunker value the social interaction, and the new technology enabled the venue to provide that experience online, helping to support people’s mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

Kenny Sanger, Managing Director of The Bunker, said: “Many people have realised how important the music sector is; it generates a huge income for the UK and is a big exporter too.

“The sector has been really hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and many venues and businesses won’t survive. Thanks to this funding, we’ve been able to adapt and continue some of our work online.

“We’re currently in a third national lockdown so we’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re optimistic things will get better.”

The North East Business Support Fund (Restart & Recovery/Kick-starting Tourism) is administered by North East Enterprise Agency NBSL

NBSL is approved by BEIS and has achieved the Customer First accreditation. NBSL has a team of experienced business funding advisers who work with people and businesses across the North East to identify solutions that aid development and growth.

NBSL relaunched The North East Business Support Fund (NEBSF) in 2018. The inaugural round of funding was launched in 2012, since then NBSL has provided funding and support to businesses from an array of sectors spanning all corners of the region with a recent impact report finding that the fund has yielded an impressive £4.40 economic boost for every £1 invested.