‘It could trans­form the city’


Sunderland Echo - - News - By Gary Welford gary.welford@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @sun­der­lan­de­cho

Com­mu­nity cham­pion Tony Downey reck­ons be­ing named UK City of Cul­ture 2021 could spark a real re­nais­sance in Sun­der­land.

Be­fore his re­tire­ment, Tony, 73, worked as an adop­tions and fos­ter­ing of­fi­cer for Sun­der­land City Coun­cil’s so­cial ser­vices de­part­ment.

He was born in Mill­field, but now lives in The Oaks, and has al­ways been pas­sion­ate about his home city.

To­day, with 15 days to go un­til the UK City of Cul­ture fi­nal bid has to be submitted, he ex­plained why he has be­come a cul­ture cham­pion.

“I have a deep af­fec­tion for my city and wanted to do some­thing to help the bid.

“I think the city re­ally needs some­thing like the bid, and I’m sure the city as a whole would re­spond to it – the ef­fect on the city would be trans­for­ma­tive.

“The pos­i­tive ef­fect it would have and the eupho­ria would sway any­one who isn’t sure about the bid.

“I’d like the 2021 pro­gramme to re­flect our past. For in­stance, the area was the birth­place­ofGre­go­ri­an­chant­ing in this coun­try, so it would be­great­to­haveafes­ti­val­based on Gre­go­rian chant­ing.”

Sun­der­land is up against Coven­try, Pais­ley, Swansea and Stoke to be named UK City of Cul­ture.

A suc­cess­ful bid would put the city firmly into the cul­tural spot­light, at­tract­ing mil­lions of pounds into the lo­cal econ­omy through in­vest­ment in the arts and an in­crease in vis­i­tors and jobs.

It would kick-start a fouryear pe­riod of growth, in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity and cul­mi­nate in a year of cul­tural and artis­tic events.

Fi­nal sec­ond-round bids must be submitted by Septem­ber 29, and the suc­cess­ful city will be an­nounced in Hull, the cur­rent UK City of Cul­ture, in De­cem­ber.

Com­mu­nity cham­pion Tony Downey.

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