As well being the home town of David Hockney and the Bronte sisters, Bradford is often cited as the youngest city in Europe.
Around 29% of its half-million people are aged under 20, with nearly a quarter under-16, and its bid made much of the promise its young profile offers.
But Bradford’s youth and famously diverse population were only part of the offer outlined to judges by its winning bid team, who highlighted a world-class range of museums and cultural venues, impressive historical buildings, breathtaking natural landscapes, and its independent “doing things differently” attitude.
As well as being the home town of artists like Hockney, writers like the Brontes and JB Priestley, and composers like Frederick Delius, the district has also been the setting for classic film and TV – from 90s ITV hit Band Of Gold to the cult 1987 comedy Rita, Sue And Bob Too.
Bradford’s credentials for the City of Culture title included it being home to the National Science and Media Museum, and the city recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of being named the first Unesco City of Film.
It is also the site of one of the most eagerly anticipated arts building projects in the north of England as the landmark Odeon Cinema, in the city centre, is being transformed into a 4,000-seat music venue – Bradford Live.
The city is also home to:
– The Alhambra Theatre, overlooking City Park
– Grade II-listed St George’s Hall, which recently underwent a £9.5 million restoration
– Bradford Industrial Museum
– Impressions Art Gallery
– The Peace Museum, billed as the only accredited museum of its kind anywhere in the UK
A few miles from the city centre is the Saltaire Unesco World Heritage Site – the model village built by Sir Titus Salt in the 1850s which includes the internationally renowned Salts Mill.
Salts Mill is home to the largest permanent collection of Hockney paintings in the world.
The bid team also highlighted that the district is home to England’s largest learning disability theatre company, Mind the Gap, and Bradford Literature Festival – one of the largest and most inclusive festivals in the UK.
Bradford is home to a thriving community of independent local festivals, 30 libraries, dozens of community and voluntary arts organisations, and a vibrant community of independent artists, producers, writers, poets, dancers, photographers, filmmakers and other arts practitioners, its bid said.
— Bradford 2025 (@bradford2025) March 31, 2021
In January, Bradford Council’s museum strategy for the next decade revealed plans for a new multimillion-pound city museum which would join the district’s four other council-run museums.
A year earlier, a 10-year cultural strategy for the district was announced which set out 10 ambitious targets to be met by 2031 with a “cultural renaissance” at their heart.
Bradford 2025 has already supported a number of projects including Summer Unlocked – a programme of free cultural events including theatre, music, film, acrobatic displays on the canals, poetry in car parks and vibrant street art – through to the Bradford is Lit light festival and the spectacular Borealis light show, which saw more than 20,000 people come into the main city square last year.
It also supported The Mills Are Alive in Manningham – an epic projection show on the Lister Mills which brought to life the past, present and future of the area in a visual and audio spectacle combining music, audio stories, film and photos.
The bid team has predicted that being the UK City of Culture 2025 will bring a range of benefits to the district, including major social and economic regeneration and “a unique opportunity to change the narrative of the district”.
It has also projected increased opportunities for people to get involved in arts and cultural activities to gain new skills and the creation of a lasting legacy of more visitors, new jobs in tourism, and revitalising the city centre evening economy.
The team said it wants to “change the story about Bradford and challenge the perceptions of a city that has laid the foundations for modern society in Great Britain”.