DURHAM will attract 15 million visitors, bring thousands of new jobs and see significant support to the region’s levelling up agenda if it wins its bid to be named UK City of Culture 2025, it can be revealed today.

Durham County Council has outlined its plans for its bid, giving a taste of what could be in store for residents and tourists should the county be successful.

At the heart of the bid is a year-long programme of arts, culture, sport, science and economics including:

  • Spectacular opening and closing events
  • A 12-month celebration of Durham’s 1,300-year history of space science
  • An international celebration of the bicentenary of the railways
  • A travelling fair that asks 'big' questions about the local economy
  • A series of broadcast and digital programmes taking the county and its stories into front rooms and festivals across the whole of the UK and
  • Lumiere 2025 which will be bigger than ever before.

Read more: Locomotion in Shildon to display plans for new collection building

Read more: Pictures from Lumiere Durham 2021

Organisers say City of Culture status and the planned activities across the county would help to create a lasting legacy of jobs, new creative industries and a visitor economy that will continue to grow.

The council has today submitted its bid for the next stage of the competition with principal partner Durham University on behalf of Culture Durham – a partnership of organisations which say they are united by their belief in the power of culture to transform lives.

Uniquely, the bid aims to secure the title for Durham – both the county and the city – and if successful, it would be the first ever county bid to achieve UK City of Culture status.

Read more: What's really at stake with Durham's City of Culture bid

Read more: UK City of Culture: Why County Durham should win the bid

To celebrate the submission of the bid, award-winning County Durham artist, Steve Messam, has created a giant Durham 2025 inflatable artwork which is being displayed at locations across the county.

The Northern Echo:

The Durham 2025 artwork, by Steve Messam, at Raby Castle Picture: DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL

Hundreds of residents have been involved in the bid’s development, contributing a range of ideas, from the quirky to more serious, with many of those ideas featured in today’s submission.

The bid also demonstrates the significant, sustained impact that the accolade could have on the region’s economy, which the authorities says will:

  • Help to create an additional 2,500 jobs in Durham’s creative industries
  • Help to create an additional 200 creative enterprises in the county by 2029
  • Support almost 1,000 businesses and organisations will be directly supported by the title and
  • Create a £41.5 million spend - with at least 50 per cent of contracts going to local suppliers
  • Attract more than 15 million visitors to the region, many of whom would stay overnight, helping to bring an additional visitor spend of £700 million and supporting the creation a further 1,800 jobs in the tourism sector.

County Durham’s bid has had the backing of businesses, residents and high-profile supporters including Fiona Hill - who credits the county for supporting her journey from Bishop Auckland to the White House, where she acted as an advisor to three US Presidents, and believes it is time for the region to shine.

Councillor Amanda Hopgood, leader of Durham County Council, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to finally share our exciting plans for Durham 2025.

“County Durham has such a huge potential, and we are determined to bring together our extraordinary people, places and ideas to help transform not just the county, but the whole of the North East.

“This is a bid on behalf of the whole county.

“We want everyone who lives and works in County Durham to be a part of our journey and to reap the benefits of a successful bid. Our plans will involve every person, town and village in County Durham.

“Whatever your age or background, there will be a whole host of events and opportunities for you to get involved in during Durham 2025 so please do continue to get behind the bid.”

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