light festival largeThe UKs largest light festival looks set to return to Durham for a fifth time next year.

This morning Durham County Council’s Cabinet agreed to recommission Artichoke to deliver another spectacular Lumiere in November 2017, with members endorsing a commissioning fee of £600,000. This contribution to the event will unlock a further £500,000 pledged by Arts Council England, with Artichoke raising the balance through grants, donations and sponsorship.

One of the first to welcome today’s decision is prominent County Durham businessman, Graeme Parkins, the managing director at Dyer Engineering in Annfield Plain.  More used to seeing its products on North Sea oil platforms, in 2015 the company worked with artist Elisa Artesero to produce Dreamers*. The installation was designed and manufactured   near Stanley and wowed many of the 200,000 strong crowds that attended the 2015 event.

Delivering an impressive economic impact of more than £9.6million, Lumiere 2015 offered huge benefits to many businesses in a variety of ways.

“For Dyer Engineering the benefits of being part of Lumiere were many. Normally we build things for industrial applications that are never seen by the families of the many skilled staff we have here. Working with Elisa Artesero on Dreamers tested our problem solving skills, creativity and partnership working. Our families were able to enjoy it and it benefitted the wider community, providing a fascinating piece of art with a real local story behind it,” says Graeme.

He continues: “We were able to give something back to the community which we are passionate about and to showcase our talents in an extraordinary way to the public. 

“We are immensely proud of our involvement with Lumiere and there’s real kudos with being associated with such a world class event.”

The council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration and culture, Cllr Neil Foster, said: “It has never been more important to embrace opportunities that deliver well demonstrated economic benefits and a lasting legacy. 

“Lumiere now has a proven track record for both and our partnership with Artichoke goes from strength to strength.

“Dyer engineering is a terrific example of the wide range of benefits to businesses of getting involved and I hope we can expand this important aspect of the festival for 2017.”

Adam Deathe, business engagement manager at Durham BID, said: “I am delighted to hear that Durham County Council has recommissioned Artichoke to bring back Lumiere to Durham City in 2017.  The spectacular event really puts Durham on the map, promoting the city not just to a regional audience but nationally and internationally.

“Events like this are a great way to introduce people to Durham and once they’ve been and experienced all the city has to offer with such a stunning backdrop, they’re inspired to visit time and again.  Lumiere 2017 will no doubt add to the existing legacy of previous shows, encouraging repeat visitors and therefore boosting the local economy.”

Helen Marriage, Director of Artichoke said: “I’m thrilled that Lumiere has been recommissioned by Durham County Council for 2017. Lumiere was born in Durham in 2009 and, although we’ve produced the event in other places, Durham always feels like coming home.

“The support we’ve received from the council from the start has been remarkable – steady and unflinching — and we’re incredibly grateful also to Arts Council England for their ongoing support for Lumiere. With each festival new partnerships have been forged with local businesses and organisations who understand and benefit from Lumiere’s growing value and impact. Artists, both local and international, look forward to seeing their work against the incredible architectural backdrop that Durham offers.  We’re looking forward to building on all these partnerships over the next eighteen months, and to creating successful new relationships to enable us to deliver another world-class festival for the city.” 

200,000 people turned out to see Durham City transformed by 29 artworks across four magical winter evenings between November 12 and 15 last year. Visitors encountered incredible artistic feats including a colossal whale in the Wear, the history of the universe projected onto the iconic Cathedral and the mysterious fog below the Castle.  It was supported by more than 80 partners and funders.

The council’s commissioning fee will be raised from a mix of Performance Reward Grant and cash-limits reserves.

The independent evaluation was undertaken by the Policy Research Group at St Chad’s College (Durham University).

*Inspired by Japanese paper screen and Zen poetry, Dreamers created an atmospheric space to explore. Situated in Crown Court Gardens, Dreamers was comprised of large letters of mirror and steel scattered across the ground, casting shadows. Festival-goers were invited to observe the patterns they created or to weave their own path through them and to animate the piece themselves.