Lumiere returns to Durham for 2021 – and local businesses can play a leading role in helping the festival revive communities.

The festival, produced by Artichoke and funded by Durham County Council, has attracted more than a million visitors over the past decade. Now charity grant-maker County Durham Community Foundation is offering a match-funding bonus from a £50,000 pot to businesses, organisations and charitable trusts who want to support the community projects around it.

For every pound donated, the Foundation will contribute a further 50p, supporting workshops for the region’s children and other community groups: all as part of its commitment to helping the county recover from Covid-19.

Claire Linfoot, from Laurel Avenue Community Association, took 12 children along from the Association’s centre in Sherburn to play their compositions on the Keys of Light by Mr.Beam artwork last year. In the months leading up to the festival, each child had taken part in keyboard lessons sponsored by believe housing.

Lumiere Returns To Durham For 2021
Children from Laurel Avenue Community Association at Keys of Light

Claire said: “After the children took turns performing at the festival, they went round with their families, and I don’t think that would have happened otherwise. Lumiere is so important for the city but there are local people who live a mile from the city centre who just don’t think it’s for them and projects like this help to change that. It was really special.

“Our children were treated like gold. I know they were because they kept coming back to learn. We’ve had people want to work with us before and sometimes I’m sceptical that they just want to take a photo and leave – but this was totally different.

“The musician came for the first session and our children had never played before and didn’t know how to read music. I thought Artichoke would decide to knock it on the head and find another group, but they didn’t. The teacher came back the next week with a totally different approach and taught the children how to make their own music so that it didn’t matter if they had previous experience or not.”

Community Investment Manager at believe housing, Rachel Edmunds, said: “Lumiere is an event that stirs creative energy among so many. It was great to be able to help the young people at Laurel Avenue pick up some new creative skills too. Experiences like this stay with children for their entire lives and help to shape their aspirations.

“We’ve been keen supporters of Lumiere and the creative community work that the festival does for several years and we’re looking forward to continuing that.”

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