What is County Durham Cultural Partnership?


County Durham Cultural Partnership exists to help create the conditions for culture to thrive in County Durham.

The Partnership aims to provide a collective voice for culture, to improve the coordination of the county’s cultural activity and to help encourage opportunities for collaboration – which could be anything from artists working on new commissions as part of an international festival to a community group linking up with a new cultural partner to develop a project.

The Partnership is managed by a steering group of representatives from a range of organisations with an interest in culture. The steering group also has representation from strategic and funding bodies for culture – helping to maximise and coordinate investment into the county. Listening to the needs and interests of individual practitioners and creative businesses across County Durham is important and Durham Creatives representation on the steering group is one of the routes through which the Partnership does this. The chair of the Partnership is Roger Kelly, who lives in County Durham and leads the Crook and Weardale Choral Society. Roger was formerly chief executive of Gateshead Council and helped to oversee a number of high-profile developments and regeneration projects in Gateshead including the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and The Sage Gateshead.

The organisations that make up the Partnership are united in the belief that culture – be that arts, heritage, museums, libraries – has an intrinsic value and can enrich and inspire – genuinely changing lives. Culture also has an important role to play in making a contribution to health and wellbeing, the regeneration of places, driving tourism and raising our profile and standing abroad. The Partnership is currently developing a strategy which will set out our ambitions for culture in County Durham over the next 10 years, identifying some of the key transformational projects and ideas that we’ll be supporting and helping us to prioritise.

County Durham has some outstanding cultural assets, from the World Heritage Site with its castle and medieval Cathedral, to rugged countryside and coast, and award winning attractions including Beamish, The Bowes Museum and Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon. The county has a rich spiritual heritage reflected through sites such as Auckland Castle, and also boasts a year round events programme featuring Lumiere, Durham Book Festival, BRASS and community-led events such as the historic Durham Miners Gala, celebrating the traditions of the Durham Coalfield. The Partnership’s aim is to build on these assets which make Durham so distinctive. We want more people in the county to experience the fantastic cultural offer on our doorstep – and at the same time to work together to attract more tourist visitors to help contribute to the county’s economic wellbeing.