A large banner has been unveiled down the side of a Yorkshire dam to reveal the name of the first-ever arts festival to run alongside the world’s biggest annual sporting event, the Tour de France.

Yorkshire Water has unveiled a banner in the heart of Brontë country as the countdown begins to one of the biggest and best arts festivals the county has ever seen – Yorkshire Festival 2014.

Yorkshire Festival 2014 will showcase the region’s finest creative talents on a national and international stage in the run up to Yorkshire’s Grand Départ 2014 – the opening two stages of this year’s Tour de France cycle race.
As the region’s biggest landowner on the race route, the water company’s parent company, Kelda Group, has agreed to give the 100-day Yorkshire Festival 2014 its full support.

To announce its involvement, Yorkshire Water took the wraps off a large banner bearing the official name Yorkshire Festival 2014 at its Lower Laithe Reservoir near Haworth – one of eight locations which will host an exciting piece of land art for the duration of the festival.

The festival’s Executive Producer, Henrietta Duckworth, said the support pledged by the company would ensure the delivery of a world-class programme of events to showcase the imagination and creativity of Yorkshire’s cultural talent.

She added: “As one of the region’s biggest environmental investors, employers and landowners, Yorkshire Water has recognised what a fantastic opportunity the festival is for our region.

“They are exploring how local communities and arts organisations can engage with their employees and utilise their land and reservoir sites. With this support, we have been able to create an ambitious Festival Programme featuring world-class artists built around a core of participatory opportunities, across all art-forms, taking place throughout the county for audiences from Yorkshire and beyond” she said.

The 100-day cultural festival will start on March 27th, 2014 and is designed to encourage mass public participation in arts and cultural events in the run up to the Grand Départ.

The Grand Départ of the Tour de France takes place in Yorkshire in two stages on Saturday, July 5th and Sunday, July 6th, 2014.

Richard Flint, the Chief Executive of Kelda Group and Yorkshire Water, said: “The 390km route of the Grand Départ will take riders through the heart of many of our reservoir catchments in north, west and south Yorkshire which include some of the most stunning and carefully-managed countryside in the UK.

“We’re really looking forward to working with local councils and communities across Yorkshire to ensure as many people as possible can celebrate and watch the race. The event is watched by more than 3.5 billion people worldwide with an additional 2 million visitors expected to come to Yorkshire to watch the race. What a fantastic opportunity it is to promote what talent and beauty our great region has to offer!” added Mr Flint.

Yorkshire Water is one of several major companies based in the region that have already pledged their support for the festival and cycle race, with others being encouraged to get involved. In 2013, Arts Council England awarded funding of £1 million to the festival.

Gary Verity, the Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said there had recently been a huge response to a rallying call from the region’s arts community to create a memorable arts festival to celebrate the Grand Départ.

“We are in the final throes of agreeing the official festival programme which I can tell you features some absolutely fantastic events. The 100-day festival will be a really exciting way to welcome the world to Yorkshire.”

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure and skills Councillor Lucinda Yeadon said:

“The Yorkshire Festival 2014 is going to be a fantastic showcase for the incredible range of talent across the arts and culture in Leeds and the county. Helping to celebrate the countdown to the fantastic Tour de France Grand Départ, there will be something for everyone to enjoy in the programme and it is sure to further heighten the excitement level as we build to July the fifth.”

The official festival programme remains a closely guarded secret and is scheduled to be announced in the next few days.


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