County’s £620k to back City of Culture efforts
COUNTY council chiefs have committed £620,000 to support a bid for Lancashire to be named UK City of Culture in 2025.
The cash-strapped council says the money is its contribution towards the bid, its support team and programme development cost and argued that the honour could be integral to the county’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
The competition has previously only been contested by individual cities, but the Department of Culture Media and Sport has since indicated that a county-wide bid for Lancashire would be welcomed.
It would mean that all the county’s towns and cities would be united to form one virtual city.
The UK City of Culture title was created following the success of Glasgow and Liverpool as European Capitals of Culture in 1990 and 2008 respectively, and bosses at Lancashire County Council (LCC) say that just bidding has already pushed cities to “think more strategically about their cultural offer, identity and heritage within a national context”.
Cllr Michael Green, cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “At a time of unprecedented change, progressing and winning this bid could form a key part of Lancashire’s bounce-back from the Covid-19 crisis.
“My cabinet colleagues and I are supporting this bid, which aims to produce an ambitious and inclusive cultural programme to integrate the urban areas, the coast and the countryside as a virtual city of 1.5 million inhabitants.
“This would connect the identities of Lancashire to reshape a better, creative and more sustainable way of living.
“It would help to drive cultural, social and digital skills development programmes, attract additional investment and visitors to our county, and raise the profile of Lancashire at a national and international level.”
In 2017, Hull attracted six million visitors, generated 800 new jobs and boosted the local economy by £60m. Tourism in Hull for that year also exceeded £300m.
The increased investment that bidding cities gain from bodies including the Department for Culture Media and Sport, Arts Council, National Heritage Lottery Fund and the BBC, along with increased media attention, is often cited as one of the main benefits of bidding for UK City of Culture status and other cultural titles.
At present, three other cities have indicated their intention to bid in 2025, they are Bradford, Medway and Southampton.
Lancashire 2025 expects to present the initial application to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in April 2021
To date, the bid development has been funded by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lancashire County Council, Creative Lancashire, Marketing Lancashire and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
It is also endorsed by all of Lancashire’s 15 local authorities.
County Cllr Michael Green