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Culture & Tourism

A vibrant cultural sector and diverse leisure and hospitality offer are critical to deliver economic growth in the Tees Valley and make it an attractive place to live, work, visit and invest.

Culture particularly plays a unique role in creating places that attract and retain talent, businesses and business leaders, while maximising the use of arts, cultural, heritage, rural and natural assets can attract more, higher spending visitors. Culture shapes the quality of a place, influencing perceptions and making a place more attractive. Our museums, collections, theatres, art galleries, libraries, music scene and other cultural and heritage assets, such as our coastline, countryside and natural assets, draw visitors to the Tees Valley and help recruit staff.

The Tees Valley is home to some of the country’s leading cultural organisations and practitioners, transforming expectations about the role that culture plays in securing economic and social wellbeing. We will build on these strengths to grow capacity in the region, creating an attractive, supportive and stimulating environment which allows us to attract and retain more cultural practitioners, strengthen skills and maximise the impacts of great work, ensuring all those who live and work in the Tees Valley benefit from a thriving and creative environment.

The Tees Valley’s tourism industry is a quiet achiever in the local economy. As a region we currently attract as many day visitors as Newcastle and Gateshead, but without a destination marketing service in place for a number of years, Tees Valley’s overnight stays and profile as a visitor destination has suffered.

In 2018, we launched Enjoy Tees Valley – a dedicated destination marketing service, website and brand. The establishment of a destination marketing service for the Tees Valley will increase visitor expenditure in the region by attracting new tourists and increasing the length of stay of existing visitors. This will ultimately support business growth in the tourism industry, creating jobs and supporting the wider Tees Valley economy.

Through its Culture and Tourism programme, the Combined Authority is currently leading  a number of exciting and ambitious programmes and initiatives, including 2021 Rugby League World Cup, Great Place Tees Valley Programme and the Stockton and Darlington Railway Heritage Programme.

In June 2020, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen announced the establishment of a new, independent and sector-led Task Force to advise on the development and delivery of a £1million Recovery Programme for the Visitor Economy and Cultural Industries sectors. Tees Valley LEP Board Member Annabel Turpin (Chief Executive of ARC, Stockton) was invited by the Mayor to Chair the group which met for the first time on the 31st July. The Task Force brings together local leaders who collectively represent the breadth and diversity of the Tees Valley’s visitor, hospitality and culture sectors and will ensure that the 12-month programme is rooted in the experiences of sector businesses and responsive to the changing climate. For more information about the Recovery Programme and Task Force please click here.