Nicholas Craig column

The effects of top class sport and rich culture on a region are immense.

The effects of top class sport and rich culture on a region are immense. They affect people deeply and resonate in the memory.

The current renaissance in the North-East is one of the main reasons I'm feeling cheerful this month. Today I will be at the biggest ever Test match to be held in the region, alongside eminent journalists who have travelled from London to Durham for the England v West Indies match.

Cricket's first class status in the region has brought us real benefits, both for the added profile it provides for Durham across the world, and the corporate aspects of the sport that help local businesses to get involved.

Last year we played host to the Sri Lankans in a fantastically enjoyable, high profile event. Our Durham team includes England players Steve Harmison, Paul Collingwood and Liam Plunkett, who keep the focus trained on this region as a hotbed of sporting talent. We have also taken the initiative by creating the first Women's Academy in the country - a move to be applauded.

The first class theme continues in football. We now have three football teams in the premiership.

The region has also nurtured the perennial success of the Great North Run, and we have been chosen to host the UK Schools Games in 2010, expected to bring £5m to Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland.

Examples of sporting excellence jostle for prominence alongside a cornucopia of cultural events. Theatres, arts events, festivals and public art all attract tourists and local people.

Now Richard Caborn, Minister for Culture, Media and Sports, has expressed his hope that more funding will be given to the region's museums. He singled out Beamish as an example of a "learning centre" with a "living and interactive experience".

Hancock Museum is being refitted as the Great North Museum, Discovery Museum's extension has been a great success, Monkwearmouth Station Museum in Sunderland is open after a £1m refit, and Woodhorn Colliery Museum is wowing visitors in Northumberland.

The Cultural Olympiad, which begins next year, needs this region's new ideas and big changes in both culture and sport to achieve its aim of becoming the greatest show on earth. Anything else just wouldn't be cricket.

Nicholas Craig is a partner at Watson Burton law firm in Newcastle.


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Culture Editor
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Business Editor
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