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Culture summit bid launched.

Newcastle Gateshead is poised to become the first UK host of the World Culture Summit, a prestigious international gathering of cultural leaders.

A final decision will be made after a delegation has visited the North-East later this month.

But if Newcastle Gateshead lands the 2006 summit, it will become a key element of that year's Culture 10 programme with festivals and other events staged around it.

Landing the summit would be further evidence that the region's cultural status is on the ascendancy despite its unsuccessful bid to be European Capital of Culture 2008.

Already Newcastle Gateshead has landed the international congress of the International Society of Performing Arts (IPSA) and the annual world music conference, Womex, both to be held on Tyneside in 2005.

The first World Culture Summit was held in Canada in 2000 and the second was in Singapore last year.

It was initiated by the International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies (IFACCA) which was set up after Unesco detailed the benefits of promoting good practice in cultural development across the world.

Andrew Dixon, executive director of Arts Council England, North East, made a presentation to last year's World Culture Summit in Singapore.

Yesterday he said: "The event was very impressive.

"The core conference is a relatively self contained event with about 300 cultural leaders from across the world. But you can build a lot of things around it.

"The Singapore Government was very keen to show what they've achieved in culture, their new facilities, their museums and their heritage.

"They used it to set up an Asian Cultural Forum."

Mr Dixon said he was confident Newcastle Gateshead could make a success of the summit, adding: "If the bid is successful, it will shine the international spotlight on Tyneside."

IFACCA chairman Risto Ruohonen, from Finland, and executive director Sarah Gardner, from Australia, will visit the region from May 23 to 25.

Ms Gardener said yesterday: "Our board are excited by the Newcastle Gateshead proposals and have asked that we seriously explore the potential for a major summit in England in 2006.

"We will want to be sure that the region has the infrastructure in place to host the event and to build on the success of previous summits in Singapore and Canada."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 13, 2004
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