COVENTRY is definitely throwing its hat into the ring to become the UK City of Culture in 2021 – it has been announced.
A steering group of local figures from business and culture has recommended the city should enter the running for the prestigious title that would bring ‘a range of social, cultural and economic benefits to the city and the wider region’.
The group, made up of artists, cultural leaders, business leaders, the two universities and senior councillors and led by prominent city businessman and Deputy Lieutenant David Burbidge OBE, has been looking into the city’s potential for success.
And now they have unaninously agreed that Coventry has such a strong case for the title that it should definitely bid for it.
The Council was set to make the final decision on supporting the bid last night (June 15) – while the overall proposition would be developed by the whole city, including culture, arts, education and business communities.
Although one city needs to lead the bid, the cultural assets of the surrounding area can also play a leading part in the proposal and can be in line to benefit from the £80-million boost teh title could give the region.
Over the course of this year, work will be undertaken to research and develop the bid, which would be followed in 2016 by an active fundraising campaign and the development of local and national partnerships.
The final submission would be delivered to the Departure for Culture, Media & Sport in 2017, who are likely to shortlist up to four top cities.
Coventry would discover whether it has been successful in late 2017 in an announcement made as part of Hull’s year as only the second UK Capital of Culture.
Mr Burbidge said: “This is a huge opportunity for Coventry, particularly with support from Warwickshire and the surrounding area, and I feel we are very well placed to launch a serious and ultimately successful bid.
“The social, cultural and economic possibilities this would bring are absolutely vast and it’s vital that the whole city – and the wider area – grasp this with both hands.”
He added: “Bidding for UK City of Culture does not mean we are the finished article – not by any means. It means we have a chance to shape the city and explore all of those things that make us distinctive and continue to move us, but also to look head on at some of the challenges we face and use this as a way of tackling some of them.
“A successful bid would leave a lasting, positive cultural, social and economic imprint on the region.”
Coun Faye Abbott, Coventry City Council’s Cabinet Member who has been leading on investigating the feasibility of the bid, said it was an amazing opportunity for the city and the time is right for Coventry to go for it.
She added: “The city is on the move again – in the right direction – with jobs and manufacturing returning here, the continuing success story of our two universities helping our reputation worldwide and ambitious plans for our city centre.
“It’s time for us to get serious about transforming the image of the city, raise our profile nationally and internationally – and make Coventry people really proud of all we have here.”
The bid is due to be discussed by the Council’s Cabinet on 7 July and debated at Full Council on 14 July.