Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Newcastle upon Tyne, England

Liaisons – Bryan Barnhouse & Ellen Gray




Newcastle upon Tyne, England, is among the most personal of our relationships. A friendship city since 2001, the first delegation occurred years earlier, but the idea to formalize the relationship was several years in the making. In 1997, the head of youth services for Newcastle organized a trip for a group of 17 at-risk youth and six adults from Newcastle to visit Little Rock. This visionary Geordie, as both the residents and dialect of Northeast England are known, saw the fit between the personalities of our cities and the benefits of setting up cooperative exchanges. His intimate sense of the area is attributable to his wife having been born and raised in nearby Conway, which allowed frequent travel to Arkansas and led to a deeper appreciation for the character of the capital city.


The personal connection drives our relationship and has helped establish deep links in areas of common interest. One of the most successful areas of collaboration involves economic development and youth leadership. Newcastle founded a venture to provide young people with vocational and personal development training to serve local business needs. They conceived the idea for Building Futures East after visiting Little Rock’s New Futures for Youth on a Sister Cities Commission-facilitated visit. Later, when Newcastle hosted the Little Rock Mayor’s Youth Leadership Program, they showed participants how homelessness transcends boundaries and services delivered by organizations such as theirs are crucial in addressing the needs of our most disadvantaged and vulnerable.


The outlook is very good for expanding this dynamic relationship between our two cities. The possibilities abound for collaboration in renewable energy, medical research, and the arts.

  • Newcastle manufacturing has capitalized on offshore wind energy production much as Central Arkansas has captured land-based wind technology expansions.
  • Biomedical innovations at the Centre for Life, Newcastle’s science village, offer opportunities for collaboration with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, especially on umbilical cord stem cell research.
  • Their Theatre Royal could serve as future host to aspiring local actors from the Arkansas Repertory Theater at an annual summer Shakespeare festival.


Clearly, there is much to be gained from developing stronger ties. Learn more about opportunities to engage this work by contacting the Little Rock Sister Cities Commission, Liaison to Newcastle, Bryan Barnhouse at or (501) 374-4677.