Sunderland fails in City of Culture bid
HOPES DASHED AS COVENTRY IS CHOSEN
SUNDERLAND missed out on becoming the UK City of Culture in 2021 – but Wearsiders remain proud of their campaign.
The city’s hopes were dashed after a live announcement on the BBC’s The One Show on Thursday evening in an edition broadcast live from previous winning city Hull.
The winner, Coventry, was revealed by arts and culture minister John Glen.
Sunderland was also up against Swansea, Paisley and Stoke-on-Trent.
Despite disappointment at missing out on the coveted title, Sunderland’s cultural leaders vowed to still push ahead with a programme of ‘major cultural activities.’
Rebecca Ball, Sunderland 2021 director, said: “Naturally we are disappointed, but also very proud.
“We developed an exciting and compelling bid, shaped by hours of feedback from people from the city and beyond and we want to reassure people that all that hard work and valuable contributions will be used to shape our cultural future.
“Our bid really got to grips with what Sunderland is about now, and what people want it to be in the future. It was packed with ideas, thoroughly deserved to be on the shortlist and there is a huge amount of support and momentum to make many of them happen despite not winning the title.”
She added: “We’d like to thank all of the people and businesses that have lent support throughout the process. It’s been really overwhelming to see so many people get behind the city and we thank them wholeheartedly. We still believe that this is the start of something special for Sunderland.
“Our warmest congratulations go to Coventry – and commiserations to Stoke, Paisley and Swansea. It’s a brave thing to throw your hat in the ring and I am proud that Sunderland was among those that did.”
Keith Merrin, Chief Executive of Sunderland Culture, and part of the bidding team, said: “This is certainly not the end. Over the coming months, we will be making announcements about some of the great things that will come out of our bid and we are determined that we will carry on with the fantastic work we have started and support the cultural renaissance we are seeing in this wonderful city.
“There will be a lasting legacy from the bidding process. Sunderland Culture, formed by the partners responsible for mounting the city’s 2021 bid, to manage Sunderland’s cultural venues and programme, has already successfully raised more than £3.5m that will be pumped into developing Sunderland’s cultural scene.”
There was plenty of support for the bid team on social media following the news. Professor of Language and Culture at University of Sunderland Angela Smith tweeted: “#Sunderland2021 not officially the winner, but has shown it is a genuine city of culture. So proud of everyone involved.”
While James Ramsbotham, Chief Executive of North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “You made everyone across the North East feel so proud and you did so much to show off Sunderland as the really fabulous place we know it to be. You could not have done any more and we praise you.”
Sunderland was shortlisted for the 2021 edition of the competition in July and the judges visited early in November. Among the highlights showed off by the region were the National Glass Centre, the coast, Keel Square and the emerging cultural quarter – where cultural leaders were gathered at the newly-renovated Fire Station – Mowbray Park and Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.
The judges also visited city suburbs and boarded a bus for a trip through nearby pit villages.
The bid has been backed by local and regional businesses, councils, MPs, colleges, universities, celebrities and very many residents of the city. The bid team had estimated that delivery of the 2021 programme between next year and 2021 would cost about £17.5 m.
The overall budget for the whole project would be around £107m. This would include capital infrastructure developments worth £30m and a capacity and development of venue programme worth £14m.
Derry/Londonderry was the first City of Culture in 2013 and Hull followed this year with a programme that has boosted the city’s profile and brought economic benefits.
Our bid really got to grips with what Sunderland is about now, and what people want it to be in the future Rebecca Ball
People in Sunderland pledge their support for the City of Culture 2021 bid