Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw launches national competition

A competition open to the whole of the UK to find the nation’s first ‘City of Culture’ was launched today by Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw. The winning city will become a focus for national attention in 2013 and could host high-profile media events including the Turner Prize, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, The Brits and the Stirling Prize as part of their year in the spotlight.

Building on Liverpool’s success as European Capital of Culture in 2008 the successful city could expect to see economic and social benefits flow in, leaving a lasting legacy. The initiative is being launched following a feasibility study by Phil Redmond.

And not just cities can apply. Bids will also be welcome from closely linked urban areas, or cities with their surrounding areas. The important thing is that there must be a clear central focus to the area.

Bidders will have until 16 October this year to submit an outline application, with a deadline of 11 December for initial bids. Expert assessors will then look at bids received and an independent advisory panel will recommend a short list to be announced early in 2010. Finally, those bids that are short listed have until 28 May to submit their full and final bids. Once these have been assessed and a recommendation made by the independent advisory panel, the final winner will be announced by the Culture Secretary later that year.

Ben Bradshaw said:

“Culture is something that we are incredibly good at in the UK. But excellence and innovation in the arts does not begin and end inside the M25 and I believe we have been too London-centric for too long in our cultural life. So this competition aims to find a city or area outside London that has the wow factor, with exciting and credible plans to make a step change in its cultural life and engage the whole country.

“Liverpool’s success last year brought pride, confidence and real economic regeneration to the area. Their triumphant year shows that the title of City of Culture will be a prize very much worth having, with a huge amount to play for.

“National cultural organisations and funding bodies are backing the plan and I am grateful to them for their support so far. I also thank Phil Redmond for his work to make this exciting concept a reality.”

Phil Redmond added:

“Liverpool benefited tremendously in 2008, from simply having a badge of authority that allowed people to work collaboratively together to enhance and maximize every event throughout the city. It also acted as a focal point for every cultural economic and social agenda – including permission to enjoy themselves. Culture is not an amorphous concept: it is at the heart of everything we do. To bring about any step change you need to bring about cultural shift and that is where cultural practitioners can help by introducing new ideas and new ways of doing things. Something we will all have to do looking to a rapidly changing digital world.”

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