My Place

Chief executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Andrew Dixon, gives The Journal his My Place.

Chief executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Andrew Dixon, gives The Journal his My Place.

Andrew, 48, has been Chief Executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, the destination marketing agency, since July 2005.

He was previously Executive Director of Arts Council England and Chief Executive of Northern Arts where he was responsible for the development of the region's £250 Million capital strategy for the arts.

He has been a champion for projects such as the Sage Gateshead, Angel of the North and BALTIC and led the bid for the region to host the World Summit on Arts and Culture in June 2006.

Andrew was voted North-East Alternative Businessperson of the year in 2005. His previous background has included work in Local Government (culture and tourism), theatre and journalism.

He is a Governor of Gateshead College, Ambassador for the City of Sunderland and a member of the Council of Durham Cathedral.

Andrew is married to Charlotte, 44, they have two children Lilly, nine, and Elliott 10.

Where do you live?

Brandling Park in Newcastle.

How long have you lived there?

Nine years in my current house and 17 years in Newcastle.

What's your dream home?

I love the location of our current house, close to the City centre but overlooking the Town Moor. If I had a dream home it would be a cottage overlooking the coast in Embleton, Seahouses or Bamburgh.

How do you get around (walk, car, public transport, private jet)?

I use and abuse the car which carries youth football teams, building sand and occasionally VIP guests to NewcastleGateshead. I also use the Metro, taxi and Quaylink bus but prefer walking when I can. I have also just rediscovered the bicycle and recently cycled to Holland via the DFDS ferry!

What is your favourite part of the North-East?

The Northumberland beaches of Embleton, Bamburgh and Ross Sands.

What is your favourite building in the region?

There are two buildings that affect me every time I walk into them. Durham Cathedral and The Sage Gateshead. The Cathedral makes me wonder whether such an inspiring building could ever get built in the 21st century. The Sage Gateshead lives and breathes music and people.

What is the best holiday you've ever had?

I travelled in Ecuador, South America, and was amazed by the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon. However, when in the jungle we found American travellers who rated the Farne Islands in Northumberland as the bird paradise of the world.

What's your favourite thing in your home?

My piano. I bought my first piano from an auction for £10 but it was riddled with woodworm. I now have a baby grand and an electric piano and occasionally play in a charity rock band called 55 degrees.

If you could have one luxury what would it be?

A long enough life to relax.

What are you working on at the moment?

New ways of promoting NewcastleGateshead and Tyne and Wear for Tourism. We are developing ideas for the cultural programme linked to the Olympic Games and some major new cultural events including building on this years successful eat NewcastleGateshead food festival. We are also promoting the area as a great place to live and work.

Who or what is the love of your life?

My family, Charlotte, Elliott and Lilly.

Where is your favourite place in the North-East?

NewcastleGateshead quayside at night. The transformation of the quayside and the lighting of the bridges has made this one of the most exciting riverscapes in Europe.

What is your favourite shop?

Windows music shop and record store in the Arcade in Newcastle, mainly for the sheet music.

What is your favourite restaurant?

Café 21 in Newcastle or Francesca's in Jesmond for family food. Both are great for vegetarians.

Favourite pub?

The Olde Ship Inn at Seahouses. A traditional pub that will be even better when the smoking ban comes in on July 1.

Favourite meal?

A Terry Laybourne dinner of Polenta, wild mushrooms and asparagus or a cheese and spinach soufflé.

Are you any good at cooking do you spend much time in your kitchen?

I'm a keen vegetarian cook and love entertaining. I make fresh soup and bake my own bread every weekend.

What's the last play or film you saw?

Robert le Page "Lipsynch" at Northern Stage. It was five hours long and totally gripping theatre. The programme at Northern Stage is world class.

Who is your favourite artist?

Andy Goldsworthy - an artist who makes dry stone wall sculptures called Sheepfolds and temporary structures from leaves, ice and other natural materials.

What book are you reading at the moment?

"Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter" by Albie Sachs the South African who spoke in NewcastleGateshead last year. He survived a car bomb and the book tells the amazing story of his recovery.

What are you listening to on your I-pod / CD player at the moment?

High School Musical, courtesy of daughter Lilly, Green Day, Amy Winehouse and Joe Ely the American country star who recently played at the excellent Jumpin' Hot Club in Newcastle.

What is your favourite TV programme?

Match of the Day. I love watching live or recorded football.

What are you proudest of?

Being involved in projects like the Angel of the North, The Sage Gateshead and The Baltic and seeing their contribution to the regeneration of the North-East. I was also proud of attracting the World Summit on Arts and Culture to be hosted by the Arts Council in NewcastleGateshead last year.

When and where were you happiest?

Skiing at 3,000 metres in the French Alps at Easter.

What makes you miserable?

Bureaucracy, form filling, jobsworths and people who are terminally negative.

Do you have any wisdom to share?

Try and meet a new person every day.

What does the future hold?

The Lindisfarne Gospels returning to the North-East, Gateshead named the next city in England, another new bridge across the Tyne, The Sage Gateshead becoming a BBC Centre for Excellence for Music and NewcastleGateshead winning an international award as a tourism destination.

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