THE growing cultural sector generates an extra £20million a year of income for County Durham, according to a new report.

The success of the spectacular Kynren show in Bishop Auckland the return of the popular Lumiere light festival to Durham are among the factors which have seen the sector grow year-on-year.

The report to go before Durham County Council’s ruling Cabinet next Wednesday says the thriving cultural sector now employs more than 2000 people in the county and is having a significant impact on the county.

Cllr Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for culture, regeneration and economic development, said: “Culture is a vibrant and rapidly growing area, which is key to the county’s economic development.

“Creating a reputation for Durham as a progressive place with a strong sense of identity – a great place to live, work, visit or invest – paves the way for attracting employers to locate here, tourists to visit and businesses to trade with us.

“Furthermore, for the individual, culture has many benefits beyond simply entertainment and enjoyment. It can improve our health, our social situation and our education.”

The report outlines how the council developed a renewed ambition to see culture in the county grow following its City of Culture bid in 2009.

Among the other successes to be highlighted in the report are the new Durham City Run, which saw 2000 people take to the streets of the city when it was first staged last year, the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition which attracted 70,000 visitors to Bowes Museum and the Open Treasure exhibition at Durham Cathedral.