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Lumiere set to light up lives and boost County Durham's economy once again in 2021

Published November 10, 2020 2.54pm


Lumiere, the UK's largest and most successful light festival, will return to County Durham next year, offering a welcome sign of brighter times ahead.

Our event is set to take place from Thursday 18 to Sunday 21 November 2021 and will illuminate the city with works by local, national and international artists.

Lumiere 1

'I Love Durham' by Jacques Rival photographed at the tenth anniversary edition of Lumiere in 2019

It is hoped the announcement will lift people's spirits, while also highlighting our ongoing commitment to championing cultural investment and the economic and social benefits it brings.

The announcement precedes a new online photography exhibition, created by festival producers Artichoke, to mark a year until the free light festival's return. Available at Lumiere Festival from Wednesday 18 November, the exhibition will feature photographs of the people in the background who make Lumiere happen, showing a side to the event that is not usually visible to the public.

To view the exhibition and to sign up to a newsletter to stay up to date with the latest festival updates, visit Lumiere Festival.  

It also comes ahead of the presentation of a report evaluating the success of last year's festival to our Cabinet next week. Councillors will hear that the landmark 10th anniversary edition of the festival built upon the positive impact of the council's sustained investment in cultural activities, boosting the economy by £11.5 million and creating unforgettable experiences for residents and visitors.

While extreme weather conditions affected the attendance numbers, turnout was still high at about 165,000 visitors. This includes the one millionth visitor since the launch of the biennial event in 2009. Feedback from visitors was once again positive, with 87 per cent of those surveyed rating the festival as either good or very good and 96 per cent stating it was good for County Durham's image.

Something to look forward to 

Next year's festival looks set to be equally inspiring, with Artichoke planning a spectacular programme of artworks and installations.

Highly experienced in producing outdoor events, the arts charity will make sure appropriate measures are in place to ensure audiences can enjoy the festival safely in accordance with any coronavirus guidelines in place.

Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: "This year has been incredibly difficult for people in County Durham and across the world. The impact of coronavirus on our communities has been profound and I think we are all in need of something to look forward to at the moment. By announcing Lumiere's return next year, we hope to spread a message of hope and show there is light at the end of the tunnel in these difficult times.

"As the evaluation of last year's festival demonstrates, Lumiere also provides a significant boost to our economy, as well as supporting artists and creative businesses from the UK and beyond. The most complete recent figures show creative industries contributed more than £11 billion to the UK economy in 2018 and we expect the arts will play a crucial role in our region's recovery from the pandemic. Lumiere will be a major part of that and I'm delighted to announce its return."

Community outreach 

Community outreach is an important part of what makes Lumiere so special. Since 2009, more than 10,000 local people, including thousands of schoolchildren, have benefited from the festival's learning and participation programmes, as well as the many volunteering opportunities on offer.

Last year boasted the biggest community outreach programme to date, with more than 2,000 people of all ages getting involved, learning new skills and having a great time in the process. Among the many successful activities that took place was the Peterlee Apollo Project, which saw the council commission Artichoke to produce a light installation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Victor Pasmore's iconic brutalist sculpture, the Apollo Pavilion.

The new online exhibition, created by photographer Matthew Andrews, is inspired by activities such as these, along with the work that goes on behind the scenes to bring the installations to life. It is a celebration of everyone who contributes to Lumiere.

'A look ahead to brighter times' 

Helen Marriage, director of Artichoke, said: "People are at the heart of the festival. The artists, volunteers, production crew and of course, the amazing audience are as much a part of the magic as the artworks themselves. There's no denying the impact that COVID-19 continues to have in the North East and across the UK. The return of Lumiere is a look ahead to brighter times, and the festival will be as uplifting and full of wonder as ever."

Lumiere is commissioned and partly funded by us, with support from Arts Council England and a host of funders and supporters. Fundraising for the 2021 edition is well underway. To find out how to get involved, contact Artichoke's development director, Sarah Coop on sarah.coop@artichoke.uk.com

Cabinet will be asked to note the evaluation report and the initial plans for Lumiere 2021 when it meets virtually on Wednesday 18 November. Members of the public can view the meeting on the council's YouTube channel at DCC on YouTube.

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