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Why Atom bank and emg solicitors are backing Durham culture bid

We look at business support for Durham County Council’s City of Culture bid. Here, two business leaders give their views on its importance.

Emma Gaudern, managing director at emg solicitors, based in Durham, Gosforth and Penrith, said her company’s bond with the community has created a shared passion for culture.

She said: “I think it’s part of our duty to support culture. It’s very important to us that we seek to look after and participate in our communities because it’s that same community that supports you by bringing you their business.

“So you owe a duty to your community to look after it back in return and that is a really a core part of what we’re about. We also have a fund with the County Durham Community Foundation so that we can put something back.

“I came to the North East by choice because my husband is from Sunderland and I moved up here to be with him and I was really struck by so many contradictions.

“It’s such a beautiful place with the beaches and Durham Cathedral – natural and man-made beauty – and yet you also have immense poverty

“Yet I found hope and creativity as well – just look at what happened at Redcar to change those steelworks and mass unemployment into something that flourishes.

“I think the North East deserves those opportunities because it’s got so much potential.

“And what I really hope is that the City of Culture bid can help unlock that potential.

“We want to create a place where people want to come, not just to go and see the cathedral, but maybe stretch it out and have a morning in Durham – why not a whole day with lunch and some nice shops to browse in and a nice park to walk through.

“Then when we’ve got an overnight base, we can actually go out into the Dales or further into the North East to go and see what else is out there.

“For all that to be possible, you’ve got to create the small stuff alongside the larger attractions to make you want to spend those special few extra hours here.”

Edward Twiddy at Atom bank said culture revolves around people – they create it and drive it.

“Every business is about people,” he said.

“Whether you are supplying widgets into the car manufacturing supply chain, whether you’re part of the financial services network, whether you’re selling fast-moving consumer goods over the counter or a website-based business.

“It doesn’t matter what you are – you’re all about people and society really is just the accumulation of all those various connections. Part of that we call economy, part of that we call sport, part of that we call relaxation and hospitality and part of it we call culture.

“They are indivisible because they are what makes life living worth living. They are what gives us all an opportunity to share and enjoy a common experience.

“We want to see brilliance. We want to see a difference. We like new experiences. So where does the wellspring for all of that come from? Creative cultural innovation.

“If you’re going to start a new business in an old city. You want to be part of the scene, respecting the past, learning, growing from the past. But building towards something that’s over there, that hasn’t yet been reached.

“For Atom, culture is a bridge between those two things. It should be testing you. It should be challenging you. It should be giving you a sense that this is slightly difficult.

“Talent doesn’t go to places that are boring, so whether you’re attracted by the quality of life afforded by the coast or the hills, or the rivers, or whether you are brought together because you want to be part of something – we all know this is an amazing place.”

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