Councillors will be asked to endorse plans for a year-long celebration of culture in County Durham when they meet next week.
Durham County Council, Visit County Durham and key partners plan to launch 2019 Year of Culture to showcase the enriching programme of arts and sporting activities taking place over the next 12 months.
On Wednesday, January 16, the council’s cabinet will be asked to back the campaign and agree the details of the 2019-20 festivals and events programme, including the funding allocation.
Along with the return of Lumiere, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and popular events such as BRASS, Bishop Auckland Food Festival, the Fire and Ice Festival and Kynren, 2019 will serve up a host of new cultural activities and celebrations.
From sporting spectacles such as the Cricket World Cup and Durham Running Festival, to Seaham Food Festival and the Norman Cornish Centenary Exhibitions –there are many new dates to add to the county’s events diary this year.
There will also be a series of cultural activities and exchanges to mark the 50th anniversary of Durham’s twinning with the German city of Tübingen, and excitement is mounting for the opening of the Auckland Project’s Spanish Gallery and Faith Gallery in Bishop Auckland.
Add to this an eclectic array of exhibitions at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, Beamish Museum and Locomotion in Shildon, and an action-packed programme at Durham’s Gala Theatre, Bishop Auckland Town Hall and the Empire Theatre in Consett, an entertaining year awaits in County Durham.
By bringing all of these events together through the Year of Culture campaign, the council and its partners hope to attract even more people and boost the region’s economy.
Organisers of community events will be encouraged to join in by using the hashtag #Durham19 to create even more of a buzz about the cultural treats the county has in store.
Cllr Ossie Johnson, the council’s Cabinet member for tourism, culture and rural affairs, said: “Here in County Durham we have earned an international reputation for our culture, arts and heritage, with events such as Lumiere attracting thousands of people and boosting our economy by millions of pounds.
“This year, there are even more exciting events taking place, which is why we decided to make 2019 a year of culture. It is about celebrating all events, big and small, and creating memories that will last for a lifetime.
“But Year of Culture is not just for visitors, it’s for our communities and we hope all residents will join in the fun and engage with the arts and heritage all around them.”
Cabinet will be asked to approve allocated funding of £369,000 for the annual cultural events organised by the council in 2019/20. This is the same as the previous year and will be boosted by grants and match funding.
The budget for one-off and partner support will increase from £36,000 to £62,500, to reflect additional events taking place in 2019 to mark special milestones. This money will be taken from the authority’s culture and sport budget.
Councillors will also be told about a new steering group, chaired by Cllr Tracie Smith, Cabinet support for Cllr Johnson, which will drive forward the campaign and ensure its cultural legacy extends for years to come.
The group will include representatives from all 14 of the council’s Area Action Partnerships, the Safety Advisory Group, County Durham Cultural Partnership, Visit County Durham and the Town and Parish Council Group.