What will be the highlights of the Great Exhibition of the North?

How the giant water fountain on the Tyne will look
How the giant water fountain on the Tyne will look
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The curtain has been raised on an art and culture programme set to bring a £184million boost to the North East.

An innovative arts project which encourages children to imagine life in 2030 is set to be one of the highlights of the Great Exhibition of the North.

It’s been revealed today that Sunderland-born artist and inventor Dominic Wilcox will host The Great North Little Inventors 2030 Challenge for the 80-day exhibition which aims to celebrate great art, culture, design and innovation from across the North.

As part of the challenge, young people aged four to 12 will be asked via the exhibition website to imagine life in the North in 2030 and share their ideas, until March 16, for a chance to have their creations turned into reality in time for the exhibition which runs from June 22 to September 9.

Other highlights include a Great Northern soundtrack curated by Sunderland-born broadcaster, Lauren Laverne; the return of Stephenson’s Rocket, complete with virtual reality experience; a giant 80ft fountain in the River Tyne and a new solo exhibition from Turner Prize 2017 winner, Lubaina Himid.

Lauren, a broadcaster for stations including BBC 6music, said: “I’m thrilled to be curating the Great Northern Soundtrack at Sage Gateshead as part of Great Exhibition of the North. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the vast array of talent the North of England produces, across a breadth of styles and genres. I’m proud to be representing a series of gigs that highlight the wealth of talent the North has to offer.”

The exhibition is said to be the biggest event in England this year and is free to attend. It will tell the inspiring story of the North of England and how its innovators, businesses, artists and designers have shaped our present and are inspiring our future.

Hosted at various locations in Newcastle and Gateshead, the event is expected to reach an audience of three million people, including more than one million visitors from across the UK and overseas.

Visitors will get the chance to see the best in Northern creativity from pop art pioneer Richard Hamilton to world-renowned sculptor Antony Gormley; live performances from artists such as Roisin Murphy and Kaiser Chiefs; the original character models of Postman Pat; the story of Graphene told through next generation lighting to the world’s most high-tech little black dress and more.

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “The North is a hotbed of creativity, with a proud history of innovators, businesses and artists that have shaped how we live today. Not only will the exhibition showcase this incredible diversity, it will also boost tourism and deliver growth to the region. It will celebrate what makes the North such a fantastic place to live, visit, and invest in.”

The Great Exhibition of the North is backed by over £5 million of Government funding and is said to be an example of how the Industrial Strategy is helping to drive growth across the region and promote the innovative businesses and economy of the Northern Powerhouse.

The exhibition will open on June 22 and will run under the headline theme ‘Get North’. As part of the opening event, visitors will experience the UK’s largest water sculpture from the Quayside, a brand new film about a journey across the North of England, performances from Kaiser Chiefs and a live presentation by Lemn Sissay of his newly created anthem for the North. The inaugural evening will also bring together art, design, culture and innovation and will reveal content that will be present throughout the 80-day exhibition.

On September 9, the world’s largest half marathon, the Great North Run, will form the centrepiece of the closing weekend.

Alongside the programme, other elements include activities for families and a business summit to celebrate northern innovation.