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Great Exhibition of the North

Newcastle Gateshead chosen to host Great Exhibition of the North

Published on: 11 October 2016

Newcastle and Gateshead will celebrate art, design and innovation as hosts of the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018.

It is hoped that it will boost investment and tourism in the region and leave a lasting cultural legacy.

Inspired by the trailblazers of the north, the 77-day exhibition will have the overarching theme of The Blazing World - The Fires of Invention and will celebrate the art, design and innovation strengths of the city. It will connect artists with scientists and inventors to work together, create new artworks and respond to the great innovations of our time.

In addition to three walking circuits around the city focusing on arts, design and innovation, plans include a major exhibition at Great North Museum: Hancock; new artistic and creative commissions; a summer camp at Exhibition Park for families; and an extensive learning programme.

Newcastle University was among the partner organisations involved in bidding to host the Great Exhibition of the North. Various areas of the University will be closely involved in developing the exhibition. Both Open Lab and Culture Lab already contribute to exhibitions at the Great North Museum: Hancock. The theme of digital innovation is at the core of Creative Fuse North East, the Newcastle-led collaboration between all five of the region’s universities that is working closely with the cultural, creative and digital sectors, and this will underpin some of the activities planned as part of the Great Exhibition of the North.

Professor Eric Cross, Dean of Cultural Affairs, Newcastle University, said: “This is fantastic news for the region. Newcastle University is proud to be part of this innovative bid that will use the great heritage of the area, such as the hugely successful 1929 North East Coast Exhibition, as the starting point to showcase our world-class arts, culture and design.

“It will provide a great opportunity to display the University’s intellectual and practical engagement with the city and the region on a major national and international stage.”

Partnership approach

The Newcastle-Gateshead bid faced strong competition from a number of other bidding towns and cities, including the three other shortlisted bidders: Blackpool, Bradford and Sheffield.

Carol Bell, Culture and Major Events Director at destination marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, which led the development of NewcastleGateshead’s bid, said: “We are delighted to have secured the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018; it’s a fantastic achievement and a testament to the creative and innovative bid we developed with the support of many venues, organisations, partners and stakeholders here in the North East. Key bid partners include Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, BALTIC, Sage Gateshead and the North East Culture Partnership.

“We now look forward to extending this partnership approach right across the North of England to shine a spotlight on our collective cultural assets and strengths. Together we will develop and stage an event that the whole of the North can be proud of and which we hope will have far-reaching benefits for culture, communities, tourism and businesses – in 2018 and beyond.”

The Government is contributing £5 million towards the exhibition itself and a further £15 million into a legacy fund to attract further cultural investment in the Northern Powerhouse.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: “The Great Exhibition of the North is fantastic news for Newcastle-Gateshead. It will showcase the dynamic arts, cultural and design scenes in the city and across the whole of the North.

 “It’s so important that, regardless of where you’re from in the country, everyone is able to enjoy and access great culture. This cultural investment will bring enormous benefits to the region, including regeneration, increased tourism and cultural engagement. Congratulations to Newcastle-Gateshead on their successful bid - I’m excited to see what summer 2018 will bring.”


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