County Durham shortlisted for City of Culture 2025

County Durham is one of four areas to be shortlisted for the title 'City of Culture 2025.' Credit: PA Images

County Durham has been named as one of four areas shortlisted for the title 'City of Culture 2025.'

The four locations, which also include Bradford, Southampton and Wrexham County Borough, were selected by a panel of experts and approved by the Culture Secretary. 

The competition aims to rejuvenate communities through cultural activities.

The Durham bid has been led by the county council, Durham University and Culture Durham, which was originally formed to bid for the 2013 title. 

The Chair of Culture Durham said winning the bid could revitalise the whole county.

"There will be projects that use the assets of the county. Work on the beaches, out in the countryside.

"There could be lots of theatre, massive epic events that people think this could never happen here!"

Others behind the bid say City of Culture status would generate £41.5m to Durham's economy and create almost 2,500 jobs, while continuing to grow the region's creative industries sector.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott said: "Winning this could mean brining 15 million people into the county and beyond and that would make a massive impact for businesses.

"It's all about generating prosperity for the people of County Durham."

They say the long-term economic benefits could run into hundreds of millions of pounds, with an estimated £700 million through the tourist sector.

The leader of Durham County Council Councillor Amanda Hopgood said: "Securing this title would place our extraordinary people and places at the heart of an unforgettable and inclusive programme of events and activities.

"It would attract more visitors, boost our economy and strengthen our reputation nationally and internationally as a place to live, work, visit and invest - all of which are crucial for levelling up."

The Executive Dean of Durham University said one of the things they have been working on is a programme attractive to young people.

"We've had great input from young people across the county and we'll continue to do that, to help decide what we do with these venues."

Previous winners of the competition have included Derry/Londonderry in 2013, Hull in 2017 and most recently, Coventry, which held the title in 2021.

The Government says that as a result of the title, Coventry has seen more than £172m of investment including concerts, public art displays and improvements in public transport.

After a record number of initial bids from across the country, the Arts Minister Lord Parkinson told ITV Tyne Tees: "Congratulations to County Durham for making it onto the shortlist to be the next UK City of Culture. It's been a tough competition so far."

The winner is expected to be announced in May.