Durham County Council pledge £2 million to culture and regeneration programmes

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Durham County Council have just announced plans to develop a world class programme that will focus on culture and regeneration projects over a 3-year period, with investment by councillors of £2 million to fund the programme.

The events will focus on community led activities from 2024 to 2026 in order to create a “bigger and better” culture led regeneration impact to County Durham.

This comes after County Durham became the first county to be shortlisted for the UK City of Culture, an accolade that they are keen to strengthen. It is hoped that these culture and regeneration projects will further set the stage for Durham to be “The Culture County”.

In addition, it is anticipated that this boost to the local economy will bolster the effect of tourism, with last year being the best year the county has ever had, with over £1 billion being contributed by tourists.

“A bigger and better culture and events programme”

Elizabeth Scott, who is a Cabinet member for economy and partnerships said: “The City of Culture bid – developed by ourselves, Durham University and the Culture Durham Partnership – put County Durham the global spotlight.

“And the county has just enjoyed a record year on the back of it, during which we’ve seen tourism contribute more than £1billion to our economy for the first time ever. There is now a very clear opportunity to build momentum and grow that even further. We have committed to both culture-led regeneration and activities that directly connect culture to economic and community growth.

“In line with that commitment, we have now, as a council, agreed to use the £2million currently held in our culture reserve to support bids for external funding. We’re very confident we can leverage at least the same sum, effectively doubling the return on our £2million investment.”

“We have committed to both culture-led regeneration and activities that directly connect culture to economic and community growth”

In addition to the £2 million pledged by councillors, Durham County Council are hoping to at least match this sum from their partners, who include Arts Council England and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in order to create a minimum budget of £4 million overall.

The culture and regeneration project will also feature a ‘spotlight’ year in 2025 in which major new programmes will be announced, for example ‘Finding the Light’ events, exhibitions and experiences exploring space, science and art. It is hoped that this will be rolled out throughout the entire county.

This was summed up by Cllr Scott who said: “We’re looking to deliver a bigger and better culture and events programme, with all the economic and community benefits it generates for the county.

“And of course, if we don’t attract that external funding to County Durham, it will go to other parts of the country.”

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