NewcastleGateshead is still in the running to host the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018 after being named as one of four shortlisted destinations.

Announced by Department for Culture Media and Sport, NewcastleGateshead joins Bradford, Blackpool and Sheffield in the next stage of judging which will see one destination named official host of the event.

Carol Bell, Culture and Major Events Director at destination management and marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, which led the development of NewcastleGateshead’s bid, said: “It’s fantastic news that we’ve made the Government’s shortlist to host the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018.

“Our proposal positioned the city itself as the stage, a unique setting for a series of trails uncovering the story of innovation, art and design in Northern England.

“I’d like to thank all the partners that have supported our bid to date. It’s a great achievement to make the shortlist and we look forward to the next round of judging.”

The shortlisted destinations will each host a panel visit within the next few weeks and have also been invited to present to the Department for Culture Media and Sport Board on 9 September, before the overall winner is announced in the autumn. A total of nine destinations initially submitted bids; Harrogate, Halifax, Scunthorpe, St Helens and Whitehaven were unsuccessful in reaching the shortlisting stage.

Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, said: “The Great Exhibition of the North is a unique opportunity to celebrate the creativity of Northern England and I am thrilled we received so many innovative bids.

“British arts and culture are among the finest in the world. I am determined we democratise the arts and celebrate the best in every part of our nation. What’s more, cultural investment can bring enormous benefits for communities – it drives regeneration, promotes tourism and increases life chances.

“The shortlisted bids show just what’s on offer and show we have brilliant options for hosting the Great Exhibition of the North. Whichever is successful, this exhibition will leave an important legacy to benefit the whole country.”

Iain Watson, Director, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “I was jumping for joy when the announcement was made. We are absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted to host the Great Exhibition of the North. The proposal we have developed with partners across the North East and beyond is innovative and exciting and celebrates past and present strengths and future opportunities for the North. We really hope to be the venue for the Great Exhibition and, if we are, we’ll certainly ‘do the North proud’.”

John Mowbray from the North East Culture Partnership said: “The North East Culture Partnership has been delighted to support the bid to host the Great Exhibition of the North on Tyneside.

“We have vast experience of delivering innovative festivals and events across the North East and feel that the bid will be a great showcase for both the North’s history of invention and the new and contemporary innovations which we are now delivering. The cultural sector in the region is working closely with universities and business and we hope that our reputation for partnership, which was highlighted in the Government’s recent Culture White Paper, will underpin the delivery of this wonderful cultural opportunity.”

Sarah Munro, Director of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, said: “It is testament to the expertise, strength and collaborative spirit of the partners involved that the NewcastleGateshead bid for the Great Exhibition of the North has been successfully shortlisted.

“This is another important milestone in the continuing story of the region – a place where creativity and culture is vital to our work, lives and thinking. Great art from the international stage is made and exhibited in the North East and this ambitious exhibition will underline that once again. We look forward to developing a programme together that will attract audiences from far and wide.”

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director of Sage Gateshead, said: “As a partner in NewcastleGateshead’s bid, Sage Gateshead is thrilled that we have been shortlisted to host the Great Exhibition of the North. This region has a strong history of cooperative working and we look forward to the next stage of the competition working with partners across the North of England to provide a warm welcome and inspirational experience to everyone visiting each of the Exhibition sites.”

Newcastle City Council Cabinet Member for Culture and Communities, Cllr Kim McGuinness, said: “I’m thrilled that the NewcastleGateshead submission has been shortlisted. Hosting the Great Exhibition of the North in our region will be a brilliant opportunity to showcase the great art, culture, design and innovation that defines the North East.

“The exhibition will bring a welcome boost to our economy and be a real attraction for visitors locally, nationally and internationally. Our reputation for hosting significant and sizeable cultural events like this is growing and I am confident that our local communities will get behind this, get involved, make it a big success and show our north eastern hospitality is another great reason to be here.”

Gateshead Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, Councillor John McElroy said: “It is fantastic news for the region that NewcastleGateshead’s bid to host the Great Exhibition of the North has been shortlisted. This once-in-a-generation event gives a unique opportunity to showcase the wealth of art, culture, design and innovation that already exists and the region is renowned for. We look forward to moving into the next phase of the process and feel sure that we have a competitive and engaging bid for the judging panel.”

Shortlisted destinations are being encouraged to use social media to raise awareness and enable people to voice their support. The NewcastleGateshead bid team is asking people to include NewcastleGateshead to host #GreatNorthExpo2018 in tweets of support.