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Toast of the toon: NewcastleGateshead Initiative celebrates 10 years

13th January 2011

Categories: Latest News

Destination marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative celebrates its 10th anniversary at an event which will bring together city leaders past and present later today. (Thursday 13 January).

A public-private partnership supported by Gateshead Council, Newcastle City Council and over 165 private sector member organisations across NewcastleGateshead, the organisation’s work has challenged and changed outdated perceptions of the area, created inspiring and engaging cultural events, attracted millions of pounds worth of conferences, driven high profile city break marketing campaigns, locally, nationally and internationally and championed NewcastleGateshead as a vibrant cultural capital.

The 10th anniversary event at Northumbria University’s Sport Central will celebrate key events and achievements of the past decade with an audience of partners, stakeholders, staff (past and present) and council, cultural and business leaders who have supported the organisation over the past decade, including Cllr David Faulkner, Cllr Mick Henry, Sir Ian Wrigglesworth, Jamie Martin, Alastair Balls, Andrew Dixon and Tony Flynn.

Leader of Gateshead Council, Cllr Mick Henry, said: “10 years ago both councils recognised the opportunity to have a greater impact globally and nationally through joint working. NewcastleGateshead Initiative has clearly demonstrated the level of success that we can achieve, consistently punching above its weight and putting NewcastleGateshead firmly on the map.”

NewcastleGateshead Initiative was created in 2000 by Gateshead Council and Newcastle City Council as a publicly and privately funded business; both councils recognised the opportunity to have a greater impact nationally and globally through joint working at a time when there was limited cross-river collaboration,  little leisure or business tourism and the area’s media profile was largely negative.

The bid to become European Capital of Culture 2008 was an initial focus for the organisation, a campaign designed to raise aspirations locally and change the image of NewcastleGateshed at a national and international level.  The NewcastleGateshead bid was the favourite with the public, press and bookmakers and succeeded in establishing the area as a vibrant visitor destination.

Ultimately, NewcastleGateshead lost out to Liverpool but the momentum gained through the bidding process was maintained with the launch of culture 10, an annual programme of world-class festivals and events. Culture 10 was instrumental in further developing the cultural reputation of NewcastleGateshead and North East England, raising aspirations, stimulating creativity, inspiring business confidence, creating jobs and developing skills through culture, not to mention attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Highlights of the culture10 programme included: The Tall Ships Race (2005), Battleship Potemkin (2006), the Spencer Tunick installation (2005), EAT! NewcastleGateshead (2006 – 2011), Juice – NewcastleGateshead’s festival for children and young people (2008 – 2011) and Illuminating Hadrian’s Wall (2010).

Alongside marketing campaigns to promote NewcastleGateshead as a cultural visitor destination for leisure breaks, the NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau has successfully established the area as a major conference destination. Working with conference buyers and event organisers, the Convention Bureau has attracted multi-million pounds worth of conference business over the last 10 years, including the National Union of Students, the Labour Party Spring Conference and the British Council of Shopping Centres, which was itself the biggest ever corporate conference staged in NewcastleGateshead bringing 3,300 delegates to the ‘twin cities’ in 2007. Business tourism in NewcastleGateshead is now worth an estimated £240m to the local economy.

Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr David Faulkner, said: “Over the last ten years NewcastleGateshead Initiative has dramatically raised the profile of NewcastleGateshead as an exciting and cultural city break and a leading conference destination. The team consistently deliver impressive results, transforming negative perceptions, boosting visitor numbers and importantly making a real contribution to the local economy. As we mark the organisation’s 10th birthday, we are pleased to be able to reaffirm our support and commitment to their valuable work.”

In the last three years alone NewcastleGateshead Initiative has been instrumental in delivering:

• Thousands of high spending new business visitors by securing a host of national and international conferences from the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference to the Congress of the International Colour Association

• Over 100 major events and festivals

• Over 280 journalist visits and more than £16.7m worth of media coverage profiling  NewcastleGateshead as a world-class destination

All of which has helped to attract 4.84 million overnight visitors and 52.63 million day visitors, delivering a total of £3.69bn into the tourism economy (2007-09).

Sarah Stewart, interim chief executive at NewcastleGateshead Initiative said: “As we mark NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s 10th anniversary we’re taking the opportunity to review just how far we’ve come as a destination and as an organisation; there are many remarkable achievements, most of which were probably unimaginable just a decade ago. Who would have imagined that NewcastleGateshead would become renowned as a leading cultural light?

“The combined vision of two local authorities and the ongoing support of our many members, partners and stakeholders have helped to shape and deliver the ‘destination’ as we know it today. In turn, we as an organisation have been able to promote and maximise these exciting and impressive capital developments in all of our activity, creating a ‘buzz’ about the place and radically challenging outdated perceptions of the Gateshead and Newcastle of the past.”

Tourism figures released last year showed that the visitor economy in NewcastleGateshead and the surrounding Tyne and Wear area had increased by a significant 3% in 2009 compared to 2008, bringing the economic value of tourism across the area to £2.03billion. The results demonstrated that the area was responsible for a huge 52% of the North East’s visitor economy in 2009, and NewcastleGateshead accounted for 61% of that figure, or £1.23billion worth of visitor spend.


For further information contact:

Kathie Wilcox, Senior Media & PR Manager, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, T. +44 (0)191 440 5742


Notes to Editors

·  NewcastleGateshead Initiative is the destination marketing agency for NewcastleGateshead. Its mission is to position and promote NewcastleGateshead as a leading destination for leisure and business visitors through cultural programming, event bidding and high-profile, targeted destination marketing and PR activity.  Created in 2000 by Gateshead Council and Newcastle City Council as a publicly and privately funded business, NewcastleGateshead Initiative has developed a strong brand for the area - promoting it nationally and internationally as a place at the forefront of innovative culture-led regeneration and a world-class place to live, learn, work and visit.

·  It is estimated that visitors to NewcastleGateshead from around the UK and overseas contribute £1.23bn to the local economy.

·  Press releases and copyright-free, hi-res images of NewcastleGateshead are available at


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