Durham County Council – Terry Collins

Shortlisted for the Best Local Authority Arts Champion - Officer in the Hearts for the Arts Awards 2019


Terry Collins, as the Chief Executive of Durham County Council (DCC), is responsible for the Council’s support of the arts in the county. The County’s cultural landscape includes:

  • A spectacular festivals and events programme, including Lumiere – The UK’s Largest Lights Festival
  • World-class museums and galleries
  • A vibrant theatre and performing arts scene
  • The Durham Cathedral
  • The Gala Theatre

County Durham’s creative industry sector continues to grow, as much of which is increasingly underpinned by an array of entrepreneurial, community led and volunteer supported activity.     

Terry Collins and DCC’s support of the creative industry has led to:

  • £50 million annual expenditure on cultural activities
  • £20 million annual income across the County
  • Employment of over 2,000 people
  • Engagement of over 100 apprentices
  • Delivery of 1000s of volunteer experiences

Terry Collins and DCC work to keep Durham County’s cultural programme relevant to the rest of the county and country. Examples of this work include:

  • A Memorandum of Understanding between DCC and Durham University to work together with governments, businesses and others to attract talent, money and business and benefit local communities. Part of this agreement is to help graduates in employment and business-start-ups to encourage them to stay in Durham.
  • An event at the House of Commons for MPs and Business leaders as part of the Place of Light initiative by DCC to promote the county as a great base for businesses looking to invest in the area.

Along with The Cultural Partnership and Visit County Durham, DCC are working to develop and implement Marketing Campaign “This is Durham, Place of Light” which draws together Art, Science, Technology, Business and Tourism to create a succinct vision of the city as a county as a great place to live, work and visit. The campaign includes an Ambassador scheme and free digital toolkits which can be used by anyone, especially cultural projects, to align themselves with the County.

Terry Collins and DCC are the commissioning body of Lumiere, the UK’s leading Lights Festival. First commissioned as part of Durham’s bid to become a Capital of Culture 2009, in November 2019 the festival is returning to Durham for the 6th edition, having created over £42 million economic impact for the region and over 1 million visitors in the last 10 years. By facilitating the integration of the festival into the North-East, Terry Collins has helped those across the North-East access creative opportunities. For example, Lumiere’s BRILLIANT scheme sees the financial and technical support of budding engineers and artists create their own work which is then exhibited as part of the festival. School Resource Packs are distributed to all 228 Primary Schools in Durham County reaching up to 10,000 pupils.  Terry Collins’ support of Lumiere acts to integrate the Arts not only in Durham but on a National level, for example through partnerships with transport links: DCC are currently running a Marketing Campaign to exhibit three Lumiere Artworks for 12 months at the Durham Airport and 8 weeks at Kings Cross, Leeds, York and Edinburgh Railway Stations.

What the judges had to say:

“Excellent demonstration of how senior leadership can have a clear impact on the role of the arts in place-shaping.”

“Durham must be very proud to host the UK’s leading Light festival. A fine accomplishment delivered thanks to leadership of Terry Collins. The economic impact is well demonstrated and valued at 42m. What is even more exciting is the connections made to the area through the 1m+ visitors the festival has received in the last 10 years. A triumph and ‘shining light’ for what culture can do to improve how others see us.”