A musical theatre star and an award-winning photographer have helped launch a campaign aimed at showcasing County Durham’s most memorable moments.
As part of County Durham’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025, the partners driving forward the Durham 2025 campaign are asking people to share special memories of the county from the last year.
Memorable Moments draws upon the fact people have spent a lot more time reconnecting with their local area during the coronavirus pandemic. It also reflects on how living through lockdowns has reiterated just how important County Durham’s cultural venues, attractions and landscapes are to its communities.
From watching the sunrise over the county’s stunning coast, to marvelling at Lumiere’s spectacular light installations, to singing along at a live gig for the first time in months – the aim is to showcase the experiences and places that have made a lasting impression on people.
And, by sharing these highlights via the Durham 2025 website, those who take part can help to spread the word about the county’s diverse offer. They will also demonstrate the support that exists for County Durham’s UK City of Culture 2025 bid, which has the power to deliver transformational social and economic benefits to the entire north east.
Among those backing the campaign, is musical theatre star Katie Brace who is currently starring as Tracy Turnblad in the UK tour of Hairspray.
Originally from Sunderland, Katie has performed on stage at Gala Durham many times over the years. One of her most memorable moments of 2021 was taking time out from Hairspray rehearsals to deliver a special workshop for youngsters at the Gala Theatre in Durham City.
Katie said: “Returning to Gala to host a Hairspray workshop was so humbling. It was great to see the children thriving in such a nurturing environment. The talent that exists in County Durham is incredible and it’s wonderful that there are organisations like Gala Durham helping children and young people to follow their dreams.
“Coming from the north east, I’m so grateful for all the opportunities that County Durham has offered me.”
Weardale-based photographer Louise Taylor’s memorable moment is linked to a creative project that reflected many people’s experiences of the pandemic.
At the start of the third lockdown last January, Wideyed, the arts collective of which Louise is a founding member, launched a photography project called Home Time. This saw the group work remotely with care home residents, the shielding population and isolated people across County Durham, supporting them to capture images of lockdown life with a disposable camera.
Louise said: “During our outdoor exhibition of this project in St John’s Chapel, a woman came to speak to me about a collection of images that depicted ‘Dinner for One’. She said these images had really resonated with her as it was an experience she identified with. It felt incredibly special, getting validation from someone who recognised her own pandemic experiences through the exhibition and knowing that the work was relevant. It was definitely a moment I won’t forget.”
An exhibition featuring works from the Home Time project is on display at the Gala Gallery in Durham City until Thursday 31 March.
The Durham 2025 campaign is being spearheaded by Durham County Council, Durham University and Culture Durham, a partnership of cultural organisations from across the county. Earlier this month, the partners submitted County Durham’s final bid to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport ahead of the shortlisting in March. The overall winner is expected to be announced in May.
Tony Harrington, chair of Culture Durham, said: “The Memorable Moments campaign is all about celebrating the experiences that have uplifted and inspired us during 2021.
“The last few years have been incredibly difficult, and I think this has led many of us to feel a renewed appreciation for things we perhaps took for granted in the past. Visiting a museum or gallery, singing with our local choir, attending a football match, watching a play – all of these experiences took on added significance when we were finally able to do them again in 2021.
“At the same time, spending more time at home and in the local area, has reawakened our love of the landscapes on our doorsteps and encouraged many of us to take up new creative pastimes.
“My memorable moment was definitely seeing the Museum of the Moon exhibition at Durham Cathedral in November. Being with other people in such a magnificent setting and witnessing an art installation of that scale felt incredibly moving.
“Whatever your memorable moment is, we would love to hear about it so please get involved.”
People can share details of their memorable moments and a picture via the Durham 2025 website at www.durham2025.co.uk/moments
The Durham 2025 team will then share a selection of these on social media using the #Durham2025 hashtag.
To find out more about the campaign, visit www.durham2025.co.uk and do not forget to follow the Durham 2025 social media accounts, which are @Durham2025 on Facebook, @Durham_2025 on Twitter and @Durham2025_ on Instagram.