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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 12:55 GMT
Tyneside's 3bn culture hope
Tyne Millennium Bridge
Tyneside's bid could mean an extra four million tourists
More than 17,000 jobs are promised for the north-east of England if the region is named Capital of Culture in 2008.

Newcastle and Gateshead says it plans to invest 3bn in transport, leisure, housing and business, to attract four million extra tourists over the next five years to an area blighted by foot-and-mouth.

A 10-year events programme costing 100m is planned, which will feature contributions from Tyneside-born pop star Sting, Billy Elliott writer Lee Hall and film director Peter Greenaway.

The bid, titled Beyond Imagination - A Blueprint for Change, will be handed in to the government on 28 March.

Sting
Tyneside-born Sting is backing the bid

Among other highlights planned are a world festival of traditional music, the largest display ever mounted of Roman artifacts and a new European soccer tournament staged by Newcastle United

Sir Ian Wrigglesworth, chairman of the Newcastle and Gateshead Initiative, said: "At minimum the Capital of Culture title will bring 700m extra income in tourism and conferences and will create 17,000 jobs across the North East.

"It will put the spotlight on the region, but provide a stunning showcase for the UK and Europe."

Former Tyneside schoolteacher Sting, who performed at this year's Oscars, said: "I think it is a wonderful idea to be a cultural capital. It's about time. Newcastle and Gateshead have a lot to offer in many ways."

Culture bidders
Bradford
Bristol
Birmingham
Belfast
Brighton
Coventry
Canterbury
Liverpool
Inverness
Norwich
Oxford

Newcastle-born screenwriter Lee Hall said: "The Capital of Culture bid is a chance for us to shout about our achievements.

"You only need to take a look at the architecture of the city centre to see how much Newcastle has always been the nexus for foreign influences while still retaining a local character.

Former Byker Grove stars Ant & Dec said: "Newcastle is the best place in the world. There is no other area that is as friendly and as energetic."

More than 2,500 businesses and organisations have contributed to the bid.


Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

26 Mar 02 | Scotland
City plans cultural Highland fling
21 Mar 02 | England
Cities reveal culture contest bids
19 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
City's culture bid to cost almost 150m
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