Groups of towns able to bid to be next UK City of Culture

·2-min read

Groups of towns will be able to bid to be the UK’s City of Culture for the first time as the Government hopes to channel its levelling up agenda through the competition.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden kicked off bidding for the title, which it is hoped will also act to help areas recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Whichever city or group of towns wins the competition, taking over from Coventry, will need a “strong and unique vision for their future growth”, according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

And they must show how celebrating local heritage and culture can bring communities together, it added.

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

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

“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.”

The first city to be awarded the accolade was Derry-Londonderry in 2013, followed by Hull in 2017.

A winner is chosen every four years and holds the honour for one year.

The view from atop Coventry Cathedral
Coventry holds the title for 2021 (Aaron Chown/PA)

In Coventry, which holds the title for 2021, there is expected to be a significant boost in visitor numbers, and more than £110 million in additional investment secured between 2018 and 2022.

The programme aims to attract around 5,000 volunteers and create more than 900 jobs.

And to encourage as many places as possible across the UK to bid, the Government will offer funding of up to £40,000 to up to six longlisted places to help develop their applications.

Bids will be assessed by an independent 11-member panel chaired by television screenwriter and creator of Brookside and Hollyoaks Sir Phil Redmond.

He is joined by Claire McColgan, director of Liverpool City Council’s cultural service, as deputy chair.

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