Page last updated at 21:05 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Cathedral city's culture bid

Durham has a range of world heritage sites, theatres and exhibitions

The city of Durham is to bid to become the first British Capital of Culture.

Durham County Council said it wants to bring the coveted title to the North East in 2011.

Simon Henig, leader of the council, said Durham city would be the "hub and focal point for the whole region" if the bid was successful.

The nationwide competition was developed by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham following Liverpool's success as European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Mr Burham, along with capital of culture chairman Phil Redmond, has invited cities across the country enter, with the winner organising a year-long arts programme.

'Amazing museums'

If Durham was successful then it would host events such as the Turner Prize, the Brit Awards, and the Baftas.

Mr Henig said the new unitary council, which comes into power in April, would make the bid on behalf of Durham City.

He said: "Durham has throughout history been the cultural and geographical hub of a region that is renowned for the enthusiasm of its people and is absolutely passionate about its talent, creativity and heritage.

"We already have fantastic world heritage sites, world class sporting events and amazing museums and venues for music, theatre and exhibitions."

The idea for Britain's Capital of Culture is in the wake of Liverpool's success as European Capital of Culture, which generated 176m in tourism last year.

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