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Last Updated: Monday, 26 July, 2004, 05:10 GMT 06:10 UK
Major boost for culture projects
Sage Gateshead
The opening programme for the Sage Gateshead will be supported
Plans to confirm the region as a cultural hotspot have been given a 2.75m boost.

NewcastleGateshead will use the funding for its culture10 programme to support projects over the next two years.

It comes from the Urban Cultural Programme, which is a partnership between the Arts Council England and the Millennium Commission.

Funding of 19.5m was announced on Monday under the scheme, with the region receiving the largest award.

The aim of the initiative is to build on the European City of Culture 2008 competition, which NewcastleGateshead lost out on to Liverpool.

'Raises aspirations'

Among the projects to benefit will be the redevelopment of parks and gardens, a major exhibition at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, the development of the Scott Henshall NewcastleGateshead Fashion Collection and the Three Rivers Festival in 2005.

It will also support the opening programmes for The Sage Gateshead, SevenStories the Centre for Children's Book and danceCity in 2004/05.

Executive director of the Arts Council England, North East, Andrew Dixon, said: "The Arts Council has invested in the regeneration of our region and we know that culture-led regeneration enriches life and raises aspirations.

"The search for the Capital of Culture 2008 created an extraordinary momentum and I am delighted that through this programme we can continue to build on that legacy which will benefit communities across the North East."

NewcastleGateshead Initiative chairman Alastair Balls said: "This additional funding will help us to continue to realise our ambitions to make NewcastleGateshead and the region a cultural force to be reckoned with, both nationally and internationally."

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