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Newcastle Gateshead unveils ambitious strategy

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Newcastle Gateshead has set out an ambitious strategy for the future in its bid for European Capital of Culture 2008.

The bid - Beyond Imagination. A Blueprint for Change - puts culture at the heart of regeneration and will be delivered to the DCMS by six north east young people today.

The bid focuses on the unparalleled European connections the Europe-facing north east has had for centuries; on international quality; on region-wide assets and support and on ensuring that funding and delivery is in place.

It contains plans for over£3 billion investment in transport, leisure, housing and commercial development. Some£350m of this will be spent directly on permanent cultural infrastructure and£100m on an events programme spanning five years from 2003.

At minimum the European Capital of Culture title will bring£700m extra income in tourism and conferences and will create 17,000 jobs across the north east.

It will put the spotlight on the region and provide a stunning showcase for the UK and Europe. Breathtaking in ambition, the proposals for Newcastle Gateshead will give everyone opportunity to participate in more than 1000 superb new events and projects and will bring at least four million visitors to the region and create exciting new cultural links with the rest of Europe. It will set new standards in culture-lead regeneration.

Hundreds of thousands of people - from the under fives to the 95s, from people without work to managing directors, from household names to families right across the community - will enjoy a once-a-lifetime experience that will have an impact upon the lives of the people of the north east forever.

It has taken three years consultation with over 2,500 organisations to create the bid. Every item on the events programme has funding identified and an organisation primed to deliver it. While national and international institutions and names are involved in creating the events, from the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera to Hollywood film directors and international musicians, the events will be distinctly rooted in the north east.

But in keeping with the north east's tradition of innovation, they are pioneering projects that will win national and international acclaim like the Angel of the North, the Great North Run, Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Grainger Town, the Blue Carpet, the Proms at Baltic Square and New Year's Eve.

Praise

"We will be the best for culture, the best for regeneration, the best for Britain and Europe. And we will deliver the best legacy from the biggest European Capital of Culture bid ever made", Sir Ian Wrigglesworth, chairman, Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, said.

"It is a masterstroke - creating a programme of supreme international quality that has the potential to involve every member of our community," said Tony Flynn, leader, Newcastle City Council.

"Yet again we have come up with a breathtaking vision that is founded upon solid financial and delivery proposals," said George Gill, leader, Gateshead Council.

"Newcastle Gateshead will be a superb showcase for the UK in 2008. A spectacular setting, brilliant ideas and a proven track record - as well as the potentially massive impact on the lives of many thousands of people across the north east and the rest of the world", added David Clelland, Tyne Bridge MP.

"This is not a proposal that comes out of the blue. Newcastle and Gateshead have been committing to culture for decades. They are not afraid to be innovative and inspirational and even controversial" said Dr Barbara O'Toole, MEP.

Newcastle Gateshead - Beyond Imagination includes a£3bn capital investment in infrastructure, including£350m cultural investment and£100m, five-year / 1,000-strong events programme.
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