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News: Battle of the Five Towns In Bid To Win Culture Prize

Posted by Mark Cantrell on August 10, 2017 at 3:00 PM

Game of towns

Author Mark Cantrell might find himself living in a City of Culture, if his adopted home town of Stoke-on-Trent manages to seize the crown...

BY the end of the year, Stoke-on-Trent will know if it's been successful in its bid to succeed Hull as the UK City of Culture.

Out of an original 11 contenders, Stoke is one of five towns and cities that made it onto the recently announced shortlist. The city now has to face off against Coventry, Paisley, Sunderland, and Swansea in its efforts to seize the culture crown.

The final winner, to be announced in December 2017, will follow in the footsteps of Derry and Hull to become the third UK City of Culture in 2021 – and, so the idea goes, give itself an economic boost in the process.

“The quality, commitment and enthusiasm that came across from the 11 bidders made deciding a shortlist to recommend to Ministers as difficult as it was for the two previous UK City of Culture competitions,” said Phil Redmond, chair of the UK City of Culture advisory panel.

“The appetite for using culture to bring about regeneration and to strengthen communities is clearly stronger than ever. Overall the panel thought that five cities’ bids showed the potential to deliver a UK City of Culture 2021 programme.”

Writing in local newspaper, The Sentinel, Stoke's bid organiser, Paul Williams wrote: “We set out to show how, as UK City of Culture, Stoke-on-Trent will be seeking to rediscover, in a new century and in new ways, the lessons and experiences of its past. And this will be reflected in our cultural programme which will be ambitious, exciting, entertaining, innovative, diverse and full of surprises.”

Meanwhile, the current City of Culture, Hull is getting on with living it up for all its worth. All told, it is offering 365 days worth of cultural events.

While there is no grant funding per se attached to the accolade, it is said to offer a boost in terms of attracting inward investment to the host city. It is estimated that City of Culture has brought Hull a boost of £60 million to the local economy in 2017. The city has also seen over £1 billion of investment since winning the title in 2013.

The winner of UK City of Culture 2021 will also have access to a £3 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

“We’re only halfway through the year and we’re already seeing the huge benefits Hull is enjoying as UK City of Culture, not only in raising the profile of the city on a national and international scale but also increasing pride and participation among the people who live and work here,” said Martin Green, Director of Hull 2017.

“At least 450 events, exhibitions and cultural activities took place during the first season, attracting over 1.4 million visits, which is boosting the economy. But what has impressed me the most is how the people of this city have taken ownership of their year with 90% trying at least one cultural event in the first three months.”

John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage & Tourism said: “We have received strong bids from across the UK and now have a fantastic shortlist of five that reflect the diversity and cultural ambition of our towns and cities.

“The strength of the competition showed us how valuable our cultural assets are to our towns, boosting tourism and jobs in local communities. I have seen first hand how Hull has embraced its status as City of Culture 2017, and how beneficial it has been for the area. I am looking forward to seeing what will come in 2021.”

The shortlisted areas are now invited to submit a final bid by the end of September. Redmond's panel will then assess the final bids from the shortlisted cities before the ultimate winner is announced.


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