Culture and tourism must be part of the Tees Valley revival. This is why I am announcing a festival of Teesside to really put this place on the map. The great thing is, it won't cost the local public a penny!
We have some amazing sports, music and comedy talent, such as Bob Mortimer, Richie Kilty, James Arthur, Chris Rea, and Mackenzie Thorpe. I want to create a platform for our well-known talent and for our emerging talent to be seen, heard and celebrated with a summer long event in 2022 that could increase visitor numbers to this area by up to 1 million people.
We must support all our towns and rural areas and start celebrating and showcasing them. This means every part of Hartlepool, Redcar, East Cleveland, Darlington, Stockton and Middlesbrough.
The Festival of Teesside is the perfect opportunity to get working on this, so that no community in the Tees Valley is left behind.
So far, we have artists, musicians, comedians and local sports personalities backing my campaign, including Olympian Richard Kilty, X-Factor star Kerrianne Covell, boxer Joe Maphosa, comedian Shonette Bason and artist Steven Irving.
So should I win in May, I will be ensuring that part of the £120 million Festival of Britain funding that has been set aside by the government, will come to Teesside.
This is the beauty of having an elected Mayor, who can push for money and power to be handed back to our region and, in this instance, I will be fighting for some of that Festival of Britain funding.
But there are other areas where we can be demanding a better deal, too. London currently receives a third of all Arts Council funding. In comparison to this, what we receive here is a drop in the ocean.
Lottery funding is another area. We contribute way more on lottery good causes than we get back. This needs to change.
I will be a Mayor who will demand a fairer deal for Teesside across all aspects of development, this means culture, tourism, high streets, transport, education, business, health and social care.
We will transform the Tees valley, together. Let’s rebuild this place through people, rock and roll, and fairer funding.