William Eichler 01 June 2021

UK City of Culture competition open to towns

UK City of Culture competition open to towns image

The Government has announced that for the first time groups of towns will be able to join together and apply for the title of UK City of Culture to be awarded to their local area.

On Saturday, the UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden launched the competition to find the UK’s next City of Culture – a title currently held by Coventry.

‘UK City of Culture is a fantastic showcase of the huge impact culture has in towns and cities across the country,’ said Mr Dowden.

‘From Derry-Londonderry, to Hull and Coventry, previous winners have shown how the competition can deliver greater cultural participation, drive economic regeneration and boost local pride.

‘I encourage towns and cities across the UK to put forward bids for 2025 and champion their local arts and culture scene. I’m also delighted to confirm the competition will run in future years, as a sign of our commitment to levelling up culture across the whole of the UK.’

Bidders will be asked to demonstrate how investment in culture and creativity will drive growth, how they will open up access to culture and develop partnerships and celebrate links with places across the UK.

For the first time, groups of towns will also now be able to join together and apply for the title to be awarded to their local area – a move the Government hopes will widen the scope of which areas of the country could benefit from the competition.

The first city to take up the mantle was Derry-Londonderry in 2013 (pictured), followed by Hull in 2017 and Coventry in 2021. Mr Dowden also confirmed that UK City of Culture will become a regular event running in 2029 and beyond.

The competition will be delivered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in collaboration with the devolved administrations.

‘I encourage Scottish towns and cities to take this opportunity to celebrate their local culture and consider bidding to be UK City of Culture in 2025,’ said Scottish culture minister Jenny Gilruth.

‘The competition can have a transformational impact on host communities and has the potential to bring a major boost to Scotland as we look ahead to the recovery and renewal of the culture sector.’

UK secretary of state for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis commented: ‘As Derry-Londonderry proved in 2013, the UK City of Culture is a prestigious title which served to harness its wonderful heritage and culture to change perceptions of the city, attract investment and create local employment.

‘I encourage cities in Northern Ireland to enter the 2025 competition to showcase the very best of what Northern Ireland has to offer the UK, as an integral part of the Union.’

UK secretary of state for Wales Simon Hart said: ‘A thriving arts and culture scene has long been at the heart of a successful Wales and will remain so as we recover from the pandemic.

‘The UK City of Culture competition represents an opportunity to not only bring significant financial investment and regeneration benefits, but also to boost Wales’ established reputation as globally-recognised creative hub.

‘I encourage towns and cities across Wales to get involved in the competition, to champion hidden talent and promote local art scenes so that we can continue to highlight the unique cultural and artistic talents of Wales.’

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