Lumiere lights up economy by almost £10million as festival's success is revealed

Visitors to Lumiere enjoyed changing the look of some of the artworks.
Visitors to Lumiere enjoyed changing the look of some of the artworks.
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An art celebration which drew in a crowd of 200,000 people during its four night run pumped almost £10million into the region's economy.

Durham County Council has laid out the statistics of the event, which made its fourth visit to Durham last November.

Councillor Simon Henig.

Councillor Simon Henig.

Organisers say 200,000 people turned out to see its streets transformed by 29 artworks, which included a whale in the Wear, the history of the universe projected onto the iconic cathedral and interactive light projections against walls at the foot of Walkergate.

An independent report into the impact of the event, which is produced by Artichoke and commissioned by the council, has concluded the festival delivered a total economic impact of more than £9.6million.

The figure is nearly £4million more than the previous Lumiere in 2013.

As a result, next week the council’s cabinet members will be asked to agree another £600,000 commissioning fee to bring Lumiere back for a fifth time next year.

North Road in Durham filled with visitors during the last Lumiere.

North Road in Durham filled with visitors during the last Lumiere.

The fee would be raised from a mix of Performance Reward Grant and budget underspends.

The remainder of the funds needed to stage the festival, which is estimated to need a total budget of £1.8million, will be provided by an Arts Council England grant, and raised by

Artichoke through sponsorship, trusts and foundations and donations.

Leader of the council, Councillor Simon Henig, said: “I am immensely proud of our partnership with Artichoke and of our relationship with what is without doubt a world class event.

The projection against Durham Cathedral during the festival.

The projection against Durham Cathedral during the festival.

“When we commissioned the 2015 festival, we did so based on sound economic impact which demonstrated a clear and significant return on our investment for the county,

businesses and residents.

“It’s tremendous to see that this was translated into even greater benefits not just in financial terms but also by creating that ‘feel good factor’ which you can’t put a price on.

“More than 90 per cent of those surveyed rated Lumiere 2015 as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ and said it ‘made them happy’ with 80 per cent of visitors saying they planned to come


"These benefits are ongoing for us and we know that events like these allow us to showcase our offer on a world stage, attracting new business, creating jobs and boosting

our visitor economy.

“Not many organisations can enjoy a return on investment of nearly 1,400 per cent and make people happy at the same time.”

It was supported by more than 80 partners and funders including Arts Council England, Durham University and Durham Cathedral.

The independent evaluation, undertaken by the Policy Research Group at St Chad’s College at Durham University, also reflected the success of the interactive aspects of the

art, the links to local history and heritage and the sense of pride and place the event inspired.

The council’s festival maker programme, which saw 190 volunteers take to the streets to help visitors make the most of the experience, was also valued by visitors.

The help and advice as well as a friendly welcoming face were seen as very beneficial.

The evaluation reports that the outreach programme was ‘notably strong’, involving 860 children and young people and 525 residents from right across the county via the council’s

Area Action Partnerships.

The extensive programme saw Artichoke’s artists work with people of all ages and backgrounds to inspire and create.

Lumiere 2015 also featured an internationally recognised conference,. ‘Life, Art, The Universe, and Everything’, which attracted delegates from around the world and offered

another opportunity to raise the profile of Durham’s cultural offer.

In 2017 there is the chance to develop this further with the prospect of hosting the Lighting Urban Community International Conference alongside the festival.

Cabinet members will be asked to agree the £600,000 commissioning fee and a further £100,000 in kind support for a festival in November 2017, when they meet at Crook Civic

Centre on Thursday, June 15.