IN the past decade Lumiere has become a cornerstone of the North-East’s cultural calendar and added to the myriad of reasons for people to visit Durham. For businesses, it is a great opportunity to work with the arts and cultural community to help showcase what a wonderful place Durham is to live, work and visit.

Milburngate is a long-time supporter and sponsor of the festival, and has hosted a number of dramatic light installations on the site of the £150m mixed-use development on the banks of the River Wear.

And, as Milburngate is transforming Durham’s riverside, Lumiere has undoubtedly put the city on the 21st century cultural map.

“Lumiere is so important to Durham City and we are delighted to have been involved from the very outset,” says Allan Cook, managing director of Arlington Real Estate, joint venture partners in Milburngate, who also chairs the Lumiere development board.

“Durham has a rich cultural history, and it is important that our generation build upon that heritage with contemporary cultural activities that bring the city and the region together as well as drawing people from across the country, and further afield, to Lumiere.”

Allan continues: “The efforts of festival commissioner Durham County Council and festival organisers Artichoke have been outstanding in making Lumiere such a success but it is essential that the whole community gets behind the event, including business.

“As developers we understand that investing in the physical fabric of the built environment is essential to the future of any place, but equally important is investing in its social and cultural fabric too.

“That’s why I was so keen to get involved with the festival from the very beginning, both in terms of sponsorship and also with the Lumiere Development Board working closely with other businesses to maximise their engagement with the festival.”

In 2017, almost a quarter of a million people visited Durham to witness the collection of light installations located across the city as Lumiere has grown in size, scale and popularity over the past ten years.

“Lumiere gives Durham a massive cultural and economic boost and we are confident that this tenth anniversary festival of light will further enrich the area as visitors get to explore the city and the amazing installations created by some extremely talented and innovative artists," says Allan.

“This really is about art for the people, taking it out of galleries and museums and on to the streets, bridges and rivers, giving thousands of visitors the chance to intimately enjoy a very unique and magical experience."

Across the five previous Lumiere festivals, Durham has played host to some truly awe-inspiring pieces of public art, some of which will return to the city to help mark this milestone anniversary.

Among them is Mysticète the stunning and strikingly life-like apparition of a whale, which first appeared emerging from the River Wear by Elvet Bridge at the 2015 festival, will re-emerge from the water this year further along the river between Milburngate and Freemans Reach.

The colossal projection, which is sponsored by Milburngate, was created by design agency Top’là Design, led by creative director Catherine Garret.

“The whale was one of the main talking points of Lumiere 2015 and a personal favourite of mine so we are absolutely delighted to welcome her back to Durham and emerge from the River Wear at Milburngate”, says Allan.

“Catherine and her team have created a truly spellbinding piece of public art, which will capture the imagination of visitors and make them believe a whale really can swim upstream to Durham!”

Sponsoring Lumiere has been an essential part of Milburngate’s ongoing commitment to Durham City, and is part of a growing group of businesses that have got behind the festival to ensure the event continues to be a success.

Helen Marriage, CEO of Artichoke, the arts charity that produces the festival, says: “Businesses are a hugely important part of Lumiere, and it really matters to us that they play whatever part they can to make it happen.

“The enthusiasm of Milburngate is a real example to all our sponsors of how businesses can do more than just provide financial support. Its team have been involved in every aspect of Lumiere, from lending us buildings and sites to having an input into the planning of the business elements of the festival. They believe that Lumiere really does matter to Durham and that shines through in their support.”