COUNCIL bosses are aiming to give South Tyneside a cultural rebrand.
The borough’s council leader, Coun Iain Malcolm, has asked officers to create a new “South Tyneside Culture” identity over the next 12 months in a bid to attract more tourists, boost businesses and maximise its cultural identity across the region and beyond.
The move could result in the local authority cutting ties with Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums Service.
It comes after Coun Malcolm expressed concerns that the service – to which the council contributes £436,000 a year – did not represent “value for money”, amid claims it favoured Newcastle over South Tyneside.
Central to the plan is the promotion of historic borough cultural and tourism sites – including Bede’s World in Jarrow and the Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields – under one brand.
The aim is to raise awareness of our borough’s “cultural gems”.
Coun Malcolm said: “I believe there is such huge potential for tourism. It is a growth industry and I personally don’t think that South Tyneside gets enough from it, which is why I’ve asked officers to look at the potential of creating what’s called a ‘South Tyneside Culture’.
“It would bring in Bede’s World, St Paul’s, the museum, the Customs House, Arbeia Fort and others and to see how we can create one brand for South Tyneside.
“It may involve coming out of the Tyne and Wear Museums Service. That’s something we will look closely at, because I do have concerns that we are not getting value for money from the service.
“There are difficult conversations to be had with the service because I think it is too focused on Newcastle city centre and not South Tyneside.
“I think we need to explore a ‘South Tyneside Culture’ over the next 12 months as this area has a rich history, with Bede and St Paul’s Monastery and so forth, and I just think we need to think of developing the idea that ‘if you think you know South Tyneside, well think again’.”
Coun Malcolm believes South Tyneside is better with one cultural branding – rather than as focussing on individual parts of the area.
He said: “The bottom line is everyone in South Tyneside benefits from a fantastic foreshore and from the leisure offer down there, and businesses benefit from the tourism we get as a consequence.
“So when there is a new leisure facility built on the foreshore, it’s not a South Shields facility – it’s a South Tyneside facility.”
Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for culture and leisure, said: “Tourism is worth more than £200m a year to the local economy and supports thousands of jobs, which gives an idea of how important our leisure events and cultural attractions are.
“Our high-profile promotional campaigns over recent years have really helped to boost visitor numbers. We are looking to build on this further and raise the profile of our full culture and leisure offer.”
Iain Watson, of Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums, said: “Our staff at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery and Arbeia Roman Fort, hope to work increasingly closely with South Tyneside Council and other cultural organisations in South Tyneside, to increase the benefits of the museums and archive service for local people and tourists to the area.”