County Durham has received a £1.25m Place Partnership award from Arts Council England, funded by the National Lottery, for a three-year programme of events, skills development and community-led activities.
The grant supplements the £2m Durham County Council has pledged toward the project and follows the region’s bid for the UK City of Culture 2025. After making it to the final four, the county lost out to Bradford.
Running from 2024 to 2026, with a 'spotlight' year in 2025, the programme includes establishing a county-wide network of community-based cultural hubs where residents can develop their creative projects and share ideas.
The award will also support a long-term international programme with South Africa's Isango Ensemble, with the aim of developing local talent and new productions that build on the region's heritage of mining and community activism.
The programme has been developed in partnership with Beamish Museum, The Bowes Museum, Durham University, No More Nowt, The Forge, Northern Heartlands, Redhills and TIN Arts.
Amanda Hopgood, Leader of Durham County Council, said: "The £1.25m awarded is a huge vote of confidence by Arts Council England as we put culture at the heart of our regeneration plans for the county and the wider region.
"2022 marked a historic milestone for the county, with tourism contributing over £1bn to our economy for the first time, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
"We are committed to both culture-led regeneration and activities that directly connect culture to economic and community growth.”
Jane Tarr, Arts Council England's Director for the North, added: "The Place Partnership Fund is designed to help places make a step-change in the cultural and creative lives of the community, and I'm delighted that culture is at the centre of Durham's regeneration plans."