Guiding Light

September 3, 2020

Lumiere is back for 2021, set to bring some much-needed magic to the North East. Now local businesses can make a contribution that will last long after the lights have faded

A spectacular festival that has brought more than a million visitors to Durham is set to return in autumn 2021. 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.

Lumiere, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2019, is a popular light festival produced in Durham by Artichoke and commissioned by Durham County Council.

For every pound donated to next year’s Lumiere, County Durham Community Foundation will contribute a further 50p, unlocking £100,000 in additional sponsorship that can be poured back into workshops for the region’s children and other community groups: all as part of its commitment to helping the county recover from COVID-19.

Foundation chief executive Michelle Cooper says: “We’ve been working flat out through the pandemic to get more than £1.5 million in grassroots grants out of the door to support groups at the heart of helping our communities.

“We now need to build back better and make sure we recover successfully from the effects of the pandemic.

“Lumiere is a great place to start because we need to find that magic again. There’s a proven link between the arts and good mental health and so there’s no greater investment in the future of the region than to make sure people are involved in landmark events like this.

“Many people do not realise that Lumiere runs community workshops as part of its Learning and Participation Programme long before the actual event, which gives local people a unique opportunity to take part in an international festival acclaimed around the world.”

Arlington Real Estate is a joint venture partner for the festival’s major sponsor, Milburngate, and has supported Lumiere since 2009.

Allan Cook, managing director of Arlington Real Estate – who chairs the festival’s development board – says: “The reach of Lumiere is enormous, with all kinds of learning and community projects ongoing throughout the 24 months between festivals.

“Lumiere is one of Durham’s signature events which is free to the public, and I think it is really important for both the local community and the visitor economy that local government and business continue to be involved to enable the festival to continue to shine a light on our beautiful city.”

Sarah Coop, development director at Artichoke, adds: “We’re delighted that County Durham Community Foundation has made such a generous pledge towards Lumiere 2021.

“More than 10,000 people from across County Durham have taken part in Lumiere’s Learning and Participation programme over the festival’s ten-year history, and the match-funding scheme is a great way for businesses of any size to make a real contribution to local communities.”

Community highlights of Lumiere 2019

Building community participation into each Lumiere programme is a key part of the festival…

On a grim November night last year, hundreds gathered in Durham to experience a piano performance like no other.

Keys of Light, by Mr.Beam, was a spectacular artwork at the Lumiere festival; with each note played on the grand piano generating a beautiful light projection on the side of Rushford Court.

Among the performers were local children with almost no music experience.

Claire Linfoot, from Laurel Avenue Community Association in Sherburn, took 12 children from the centre who took part in keyboard lessons, sponsored by believe housing.

Claire says: “Our children were treated like gold.

“They had never played before and didn’t know how to read music. The teacher showed them how to make their own music so that it didn’t matter if they had previous experience or not.”

Months after the festival had left town, Paul Edis, the jazz musician who’d taught the children, chose to donate two pianos to the centre.

Claire adds: “It’s had a long- lasting effect for us, and the children love to play them.

“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.

“Projects like this help to change that.”

Lumiere 2021
If you are interested in supporting Lumiere through the match funding scheme, contact Sarah Coop, development director for Artichoke, at
For updates on Lumiere 2021 follow @artichoketrust on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

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