WINNING the coveted City of Culture title would bring major investment, energise the tourism sector and provide a major boost to the regional economy, the team behind the bid said at the official launch on Monday.

Organisations in County Durham hope securing the honour in 2025 will mean an influx of new visitors keen to experience the area’s diverse events and cultural gems for themselves.

The bid was launched at Beamish Museum, near Stanley, and comes after it was confirmed, for the first time, groups of towns are able to work together to submit joint bids.

Durham County Councillor Elizabeth Scott said: “We already have such a lot planned now, and in the future, for the county.

“However, the added catalyst City of Culture status would bring, and the attention and investment in our area it would attract, would be immeasurable.

“I am more than confident that we can present an incredibly robust and persuasive case for the area to be named UK City of Culture for 2025 and that the combined impact of these will be a game-changer for the county.

“Finally, and perhaps most crucially, we are submitting this bid in the hope that everyone across County Durham can benefit – and that those benefits will also be felt right across the wider region.

"We really want to secure UK City of Culture not just for County Durham, but for the entire North East, highlighting the work that is already going on across the region to make culture accessible to all.”

The bid is being submitted by Durham County Council, which is working with Culture Durham, Beamish Museum, Durham Cathedral, Durham University and Locomotion.

Tony Harrington, chairman of Culture Durham, said: “We want more people to engage with the amazing cultural assets the county has, and to support organisations, large and small that create new and exciting ways of celebrating and being inspired by all the county has to offer.

“It has been a hard time for so many people and organisations, but I feel there is a desire from us all to make things better and a real appetite for something like this to happen.

“A successful bid to be UK City of Culture would be a fantastic way to demonstrate the ambition we already have in County Durham.”

County Durham has an impressive calendar of cultural events including Lumiere, Kynren, Seaham and Bishop Auckland Food Festivals, Durham Book Festival, Durham BRASS and first class cricket.

Rhiannon Hiles, chief executive of Beamish Museum, said: “Front and centre of the bid is a commitment to ensure people and communities across the county would benefit from the increased investment, profile and tourism impacts City of Culture would bring to the area.

“The bid comes at an exciting time for Beamish as we work towards launching our new 1950s developments and innovative additions to our existing Georgian area. This is a fantastic opportunity to attract even more visitors to Durham and the North East, at the same time as developing a range of initiatives that will boost skills, jobs and growth, and strengthen our culture and tourism sector further, leaving a lasting legacy.”

The bid has the support of politicians from both of the main parties.

Labour’s Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, said: “I am delighted to support the bid to name County Durham as UK County of Culture 2025. From Weardale to East Durham’s heritage coastline, the land of the Prince Bishops has a unique history, culture, and environment we need to share with the world.

“East Durham is home to the ancient woodland of Castle Eden Dene, the Easington Nature Reserve and from the ruins of our industrial legacy we reclaimed our beautiful heritage coastline that is second to none.

“We have award-winning green spaces with Horden Memorial Park home to ‘Marra’, created by local artist Ray Lonsdale, the sculptor of ‘Tommy’ on the Terrace Green, Seaham.

“People can explore the seas at Seaham Marina or fall from the sky at Peterlee Parachute Centre, Shotton Airfield.

“We are blessed with three St Mary’s churches in Easington, Horden and Seaham. St Mary the Virgin, Seaham is one of the earliest Anglo-Saxon Churches in existence, Horden is home to the Miners Cathedral of St Mary’s, and another St Mary the Virgin in Easington had important rectors, one became pope and another had links to Alice in Wonderland.

“From Lord Byron to Billy Elliot; the Lubetkin Theatre and the People’s Arts Café; the East Durham Artist Network and Spectrum Cultural Hub, arts and culture is engrained throughout our community. Our industrial heritage lives on through our miner’s banners and brass bands showcased with pride every year at Durham Big Meeting.

“East Durham is a crown jewel of County Durham, and we will be proud to be at the forefront of the County of Culture bid.”

Conservative MP for North West Durham Richard Holden said the title would allow the county to be showcased on the national stage.

He said: “County Durham has a proud cultural history, from the fascinating National Railway Museum in Shildon, to the recently restored Prince Bishops’ Castle in Bishop Auckland, to the Seaham seafront, the Bowes Museum in Teesdale, our Museum of Mining in Killhope, through to the ancient Cathedral City of Durham itself.

“In the past, the award has proudly showcased the best of a city but we are making this a broader bid because we want to recognise our rich culture in the towns and villages spread out across county.”

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