“There’s immense power in the people
here to make things happen.”

Anne-Isabelle Daulon
Co-founder, Eleven Arches

‘Kynren’ was always an ambitious project. An open-air spectacular on a grand scale, bringing to life 2,000 years of history in an engaging way. It’s fun, live theatre, similar to the opening ceremony of London 2012 in many ways, but also much more. Jonathan (Ruffer, philanthropist and investment manager) and I wanted to create a world-class production to turn Bishop Auckland into an international destination, attract investment and empower the community.

Year 1 set-up cost £35 million, and each year the production costs £4 million – a high level of investment. But it works because of its rich content, with the history and heritage of the region, and the right people behind it; Kynren is orchestrated by a cast and crew of 1,000 volunteers, all demonstrating passion and commitment.

We harnessed the community spirit by bringing the group together with a common purpose. There could have been no better place than County Durham, as the spirit here built a strong group with a high level of engagement and emotional attachment to what they’re doing. Being part of Kynren is like being on a sports team, rather than just a ‘volunteer’. They combine a strong sense of community with a sense of pride for what they achieve together. 

‘Yes we can’ summarises County Durham. People here make things happen. They have an inner ability to be adventurous and be bold – a sort of ‘pioneer’ spirit – taking what they do to a level that puts them on the map and inspires others. It’s one of the county’s greatest assets, and something businesses should harness.

14 Area Action Partnerships bring together local people, councillors and partners to set local priorities and explore ways to address them 

More than 1,000 volunteers aged 5 to 81 are professionally trained and contribute thousands of hours to put on Kynren

The County Durham Economic Partnership has over 60 public, private and voluntary sector organisations involved in economic development and regeneration

£2 million is distributed annually by County Durham Community Foundation on behalf of businesses to support community projects and individuals in County Durham
and Darlington


“It’s about trying to work more actively in
a co-ordinated way with Durham businesses
in the community.”

Michelle Cooper
CEO of County Durham Community Foundation

Michelle Cooper    CEO of County Durham Community Foundation

Michelle Cooper
CEO of County Durham Community Foundation

Michelle Cooper is CEO of County Durham Community Foundation. Their remit is to work with individuals and businesses wanting to invest in and support their communities, typically through cash donations, using the Foundation as the vehicle for their giving to create a clear charitable community link.

“Often owners of businesses are passionate about the area in which they were brought up and will very actively support activities in those areas.”

Distributing around £5 million in grants last year, the Foundation ensures the donations they receive help change people’s lives by supporting community projects and individuals across the County Durham and Darlington areas. 

“I see an amazing amount of positivity and generosity in this region.”