Ruth Mitchell

Colourful welcome for cultural leaders

Over 500 top cultural leaders and policy makers from over 68 countries will be greeted on Tyneside tonight with a colourful welcome. The delegates are in the North East to attend the biggest ever World Summit on Arts and Culture, being held at The Sage Gateshead between 14 and 18th June. The event features speakers from over 38 countries who will describe and discuss how culture and regeneration go hand-in-hand.Speakers include chair of UNICEF UK and ex- Hollywood film producer Lord Puttnam of Queensgate CBE, South African former freedom fighter Justice Albie Sachs and American artist and arts community leader Rick Lowe amongst many others. A free public event tonight on both sides of the Quayside has been organised to welcome the international delegates. The event will feature dance and processional music along Newcastle Quayside and Gateshead Quays. In addition, there will be a floral carpet running across the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, an eight-metre high floral archway in Baltic Square and a giant rangoli (traditional Indian art involving coloured rice flour and flowers) on Newcastle Quayside, with the celebrations climaxing in a special daytime firework finale.Stella Hall, NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s Creative Director, said: “The Grand Welcome promises to be a fun, entertaining and incredibly colourful event showcasing international artists from the region alongside those from around the world and we hope it will be enjoyed by both summit delegates and local people alike. The quaysides will be brought to life with music, dance and flowers and I’d like to extend a warm welcome to people right across the area - come and join us tomorrow evening and share in the celebrations.” The Grand Welcome forms part of NewcastleGateshead Welcomes the World, a whole programme of events celebrating the World Summit on Arts and Culture at The Sage Gateshead this week.A range of artists and organisations based in North East England – including the Children’s Choir and Voice Beats Dance Group from Dance City – will be performing alongside international artists. The event runs from 7.15pm-8.15pm.

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