County Durham’s 2025 UK City of Culture bid draws closer after being shortlisted

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County Durham is now set to be named UK City of Culture 2025 and secure the colossal social and economic benefits this would bring.

Today the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced the county was one of only four locations in the UK to be shortlisted for the prestigious title out of 20 locations that initially applied .

The impact of securing UK City of Culture 2025 cannot be overstated. As well as creating thousands of jobs and boosting the county’s multi-million pound creative and tourism economies, it would empower residents and help improve community well-being.

Read more: Covid-19 cases rise 73.6% in County Durham where 25% of adults under 30 are unvaccinated

And those benefits would extend beyond County Durham to the wider region, with the title supporting leveling aspirations by acting as a catalyst for new government and private sector investment in the North East.

Following the announcement, Durham County Council, Durham University and Culture Durham – the partners running the Durham 2025 campaign – expressed their thanks to the thousands of individuals, businesses and organizations who not only supported the campaign, but helped shape the candidacy itself.

They also issued a rallying cry to the entire region, urging people to continue supporting the campaign as it enters the crucial final stage.

Leader of Durham County Council, Cllr Amanda Hopgood, said: “We are absolutely delighted that County Durham has been shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2025. Our success in getting this far is of course a testament to of the incredible heritage, landscapes and cultural vibrancy of our county. to offer. However, I think it’s our ambition and tradition to come together to achieve something amazing that really sets us apart.



Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Leader of Durham County Council

“Achieving this title would place our extraordinary people and places at the heart of an unforgettable and inclusive program of events and activities. It would attract more visitors, boost our economy and strengthen our reputation nationally and internationally as a place to live, work, visit and invest – all essential elements to take it to the next level.

“County Durham’s bid recognizes all of this, and we are proud that it incorporates the ideas and ambitions of hundreds of residents, creative practitioners and cultural organisations. It is thanks to them that we have come to this and I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported the Durham 2025 campaign.

“Together we can bring this title home to County Durham.”

The council submitted the bid, along with lead partner Durham University, last month on behalf of Culture Durham, a partnership of more than 20 cultural organizations across the county, including Durham Cathedral, Beamish and Locomotion. Shortlisted locations will be visited by the judging panel in May before the winner is announced later in the month.

Tony Harrington, Chairman of Culture Durham, said: “All of our partners are delighted that County Durham is one step closer to being crowned UK City of Culture 2025.

“If successful, we will go down in history as the first county to secure the title – a title we truly deserve. County Durham is no ordinary county and there is a strong feeling throughout the region that now is the time for the city of culture of the UK to be in the North East. It really is time for us to shine.



Media launch at the Beamish Museum for County Durham's City of Culture 2025 bid.  L/R Liz Waller (Durham Uni), Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Tony Harrington (Culture Durham), Julianna Urbanowicz (Durham Youth Council) and Rhiannon Hiles (Beamish)
Media launch at the Beamish Museum for County Durham’s City of Culture 2025 bid. L/R Liz Waller (Durham Uni), Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Tony Harrington (Culture Durham), Julianna Urbanowicz (Durham Youth Council) and Rhiannon Hiles (Beamish)

“As we enter this critical final stage, it is essential that we maintain momentum and shout from the rooftops for the talent and ambition that exists in every corner of our county.”

Professor Karen O’Brien, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, added: “We are delighted that Durham has been shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2025. Achieving City of Culture status would transform the county and would open up new opportunities for us to foster and build relationships between the university and the communities of County Durham.

“Being shortlisted is a wonderful achievement which recognizes the wealth of cultural opportunities Durham has to offer. As the main bid partner, we are proud that the university’s museums, collections, tourist attractions and cultural activities are an important part.

“We are delighted to continue our work with Culture Durham Partnership, Durham County Council and other partners over the coming weeks as the judges visit the shortlisted towns and make their final decision. We look forward to welcoming them to see all that County Durham has to offer.

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay also said: “I am delighted that County Durham has made it to the shortlist for Britain’s City of Culture 2025. It has been a tough competition with a record 20 applications. initials and eight outstanding candidates on the long list, so this award is a true tribute to the quality of creativity that is expressed in the region.

“I can’t wait to see what County Durham’s offer has in store for us next!”

Durham 2025 will be built around themes that will enlighten and energize the county and inspire people to come together. It will build on Durham’s track record for major events such as Lumiere, the UK’s main light festival, which will be bigger than ever in 2025.

At the heart of County Durham’s bid is a year-long program of arts, culture, sport, science and economics, including: spectacular opening and closing events; an international celebration of the bicentenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway with events at Locomotion in Shildon and other locations in the region; and a traveling fair that asks big questions about the local economy.

Lightyear, a 12-month space program, will celebrate the region’s 1,300-year history of astronomy and space science. And a series of broadcast and digital programs will bring the county and its stories to front rooms and festivals across the UK.

The impact on the region’s economy would be significant and long-lasting. This includes creating 2,500 additional jobs in Durham’s creative industries and 200 additional creative businesses in the county by 2029; directly supporting nearly 1,000 businesses and organizations; and create an outlay of £41.5million with at least 50% of contracts going to local suppliers.

It would bring over 15 million visitors to the area, many of whom would stay overnight, helping to generate an additional £700 million in spending and supporting the creation of an additional 1,800 jobs in the tourism sector.

And with the county’s increased national and international profile and appeal, the benefits of being UK City of Culture 2025 will be felt for years to come. A rich and vibrant cultural scene is also a key factor in the council’s inclusive approach to the economy.

The authority is asking more than half a million people to join its big conversation on the issues that matter most to them, helping to create an ambitious new economic strategy for the future that offers opportunities for all.

To participate, go to their official website here.

Alternatively, to find out more about the bid, visit www.durham2025.co.uk or follow the Durham 2025 social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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