THE Lindisfarne Gospels’ visit to Durham pumped more than £8million into the North East economy.
An interim report on the impact of the exhibition and associated festival shows visitors spent £8.3million in the city’s restaurants and cafes as well as in hotels and B&Bs across the county.
An in-depth study on the exhibition and festival’s impact has been under way since September with thousands of visitors, hundreds of business owners and a wide range of partners quizzed on the visit’s effects.
The research shows the exhibition was a global event, with 58 countries represented among the 100,000 visitors.
“The event made a major contribution to raising the profile of Durham and North East England, through media coverage viewed by millions of people,” said programme director Dr Keith Bartlett.
“The event was particularly successful at generating coverage through national broadcast media, with BBC Breakfast broadcasting live from Durham as the exhibition opened, and coverage appeared across national and regional radio and television stations. The event was even profiled on America’s Public Broadcasting Service.
“The visitors’ book gathered 6,046 comments and reveals the emotional impact seeing the Lindisfarne Gospels had on many people.
“One visitor wrote: “I found the whole experience profoundly moving.” Another commented: “I couldn’t believe I was seeing the real thing! Fantastic!” While a third summed it up as ‘Wonderfully organised, curated and displayed’.
“Visitors were complimentary about the quality and depth of the exhibition, the overall organisation and the welcome they received from front of house staff.
“Overall 99.2 per cent of visitors who commented gave the event the thumbs-up.”
The event also left a legacy for the region, with more than 20,000 schoolchildren either visiting the show or taking part in the outreach programme delivered by Durham University’s Learning Team.
More than 500 Gospels-related events took place across the North of England, from Berwick to York and from South Shields to Carlisle, and it is estimated that one in six people in the North East got involved in some way.
A spokesman for the Durham City Chamber of Trade said: “The passion and enthusiasm for the Gospels enveloped the whole of the city, which is reflected in the extremely positive feedback we have received from many of the businesses who reported a significant upturn in trade over the summer.”
l Comment – Page 28