Lighting the way in the gloom

First published in From The Editor's Chair The Northern Echo: Blog: Editor Peter Barron by

THERE’S no shortage of gloom at the moment with the crisis in the Eurozone, growing unemployment, and public sector cuts really starting to hit home.

At the time of writing, the announcement of the plan to close the Arts Centre in Darlington had attracted 78 comments on The Northern Echo’s website.

It was against that gloomy backdrop that I attended the launch last week of the Lumiere festival in Durham City – and what a welcome shaft of light in proved to be.

First night crowd control problems aside, let’s concentrate on the positives of bringing such a brilliant artistic event to the North-East.

I stood on Palace Green and had goosebumps as I watched Durham Cathedral, which recently topped a Guardian poll as Britain’s most-loved building, bathed in magical images from the Lindisfarne Gospels.

But was the sight inside the cathedral yet more stunning? It’s hard to say but the lanterns made from hundreds of vests – yes, vests – were breath-taking.

The arts may be a tempting target in these days of austerity. But Lumiere shows how art can lift the spirits and play an important part in economic regeneration. The crowds didn’t just marvel at the displays – they spent money in the bars, cafes and shops.

Well done to Durham County Council, which commissioned the festival, to the Arts Council for its support, and to production company Artichoke for its ingenuity.

I hope that Lumiere and Durham City continue to be partners for light years to come.

IN this job, you come across some pretty unpleasant types from time to time, but, in my experience, you meet a lot more people who are a pleasure to know.

Last week, I was saddened by the passing of two people who fall into the latter category.

The death of Hartlepool businessman Gus Robinson came as a shock. I got to know Gus when I was editor of the Hartlepool Mail in 1998. From a tough background, he emerged as an impeccably polite and caring man – by nature someone who wanted to help.

The death of Lily Burton, the wife of the irrepressible John Burton, formerly Tony Blair’s agent, did not come as such a shock because she’d been in poor health.

It’s hard to imagine a nicer woman than Lily. Sweet and gentle, she was the ever-smiling face that met you on visits to the Prime Minister’s constituency home.

My thoughts are with both families.

FROM this week, The Northern Echo will change on Thursdays. The Seven Days pull-out, which has been part of the paper for decades, will be replaced by a more modern entertainment guide called What’s On.

It will feature better listings – including the Cinema guide – more music, and a new slot for Eating Out, while retaining theatre coverage and the ever-popular Walks page.

A PRESS release arrived last week inviting us to cover the opening of a new dental clinic in Darlington.

It sounds very nice, specialising in sedation, implants, and cosmetic treatments, with state of the art equipment.

It will be launched on December 9 by “Comedy Dave” from Radio 1 and Dancing On Ice.

The only problem is that the press release doesn’t say where the new clinic is. A hole that needs filling perhaps.

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