THE popular light festival Lumiere is to return to the streets of Durham next year after £500,000 council funding was agreed to stage the event.

Durham County Council’s cabinet today (Wednesday, July 16) agreed to back another Lumiere event in Durham City in November 2015.

As well as funding the festival, the council will give a further £100,000 of in-kind assistance.

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The Arts Council has already announced that it will give £1.245m to hold Lumiere in 2015 and in 2017.

A report to councillors from Neighbourhood Services director Terry Collins said: “The popularity of Lumiere has grown dramatically since the first festival held in 2009.

“In 2013 more than 175,000 visitors attended the festival compared to150,000 in 2011 and 75,000 in 2009. It is now considered to have become an important event in the North-East cultural landscape.”

Mr Collins said the event, run for the council by arts company Artichoke, made a big economic impact.

“The total economic impact of the event is estimated at approximately £5.8m.”

Mr Collins said visitors were impressed with the event.

“In the majority, festival-goers were overwhelmingly positive about their general experience”.

Ninety-five per cent of visitors questioned said they would like the event to come back and 90 per cent said they would attend if it did.

Of the predicted budget of £1.7m for next year’s event, the council and the Arts Council will each give £500,000, and the remaining £700,000 will come from other organisations and sponsors.

Cllr Ossie Johnson, cabinet member for children and young people, said the festival, “created a feel-good factor in austere times,” while Cllr Neil Foster, cabinet member for economic regeneration, added: “I will be urging businesses across the region to support the next Lumiere to make it bigger and brighter."

Council leader Simon Henig said: “Lumiere has put us firmly on the world map and has become our signature event.

“By continuing to work very closely with Artichoke I have every confidence a 2015 event would deliver the sort of benefits we have seen grow so dramatically since the first festival in 2009."

He added: “We are becoming recognised nationally and internationally for this festival. The Arts Council have described it as the pre-eminent light festival and it’s fantastic for Durham to have that here every two years”.