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Great Exhibition of the North: Newcastle and Gateshead to host £5m event

Queues outside the Baltic for Turner Prize 2011Image copyright
Baltic Gallery

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Queues snaked outside the Baltic gallery in Gateshead when it staged the Turner Prize in 2011

Newcastle and Gateshead have been selected to host a major exhibition showcasing art, design and innovation from the north of England.

The area has been selected by the government to host the £5m Great Exhibition of the North in 2018.

It was chosen above three other shortlisted bidders – Sheffield, Bradford and Blackpool.

Former Chancellor George Osborne came up with the idea as part of his Northern Powerhouse package.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said she was won over by Newcastle and Gateshead’s “ambition”, including the organisers’ estimate that the exhibition will attract three million people.

“That level of ambition really did stand out,” she told BBC News. “But that doesn’t mean this is just for Newcastle-Gateshead.”

The 77-day exhibition will have the overarching theme of The Blazing World – The Fires of Invention.

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Getty Images

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Organisers hope to bring Robert Stephenson’s Rocket back to its birthplace

Proposed highlights of the exhibition:

  • An opening ceremony on 21 June 2018 will take place on the Quayside, featuring a bridge of illuminated drones over the River Tyne.
  • During the event, three themed walking routes will guide visitors to venues and attractions. The Arts Circuit, Design Circuit and Innovation Circuit will start at an exhibition about northern pioneers and trailblazers at the Great North Museum: Hancock.
  • Visitors will then traverse Newcastle before crossing the River Tyne and converging on the Baltic art gallery, which will invite five northern and five international artists to create work on the exhibition’s themes.
  • Fifty writers will be tasked with “rewriting the narratives of the north”, while the organisers promise to “connect artists with scientists and inventors to work closely”.
  • Organisers hope to bring Robert Stephenson’s early steam locomotive The Rocket from the Science Museum in London to Newcastle, where it was built.
  • There will be a summer camp for families and a closing ceremony will take place just before the Great North Run.

Newcastle and Gateshead’s joint bid said: “Inspired by the trailblazers of the north, the exhibition will have several cross-cutting themes for all to respond to, showing how the north’s fires of invention continue to transform our world.

“Crucially, we will connect artists with scientists and inventors to work closely together, to create new artworks and respond to the great innovations of our time. Arts will meet industry in powerful and memorable ways.”

The region has already proved it can host major art events, with a record 140,000 people visiting the Turner Prize exhibition when it was staged at the Baltic in 2011.

But cultural venues in both Newcastle and Gateshead have struggled in the face of local council funding cuts in recent years.

As well as the £5m for the exhibition, the government has pledged £15m for a legacy fund, which will be open to cultural organisations across the north.

Mrs Bradley said: “This is an exhibition for the whole north, and certainly through the legacy work, we are looking for bids across the whole of the north of England so we can really show everything the north has to offer.”

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-37607280