Culture can still be at heart of city regeneration, insists team
IT just didn’t happen, again, but the team behind Swansea’s City of Culture 2021 bid have said they are determined to build on the energy and ambition that have been forged across the city, writes Richard Youle.
Culture, said the team, could be at the heart of the city’s regeneration and communities in the coming years.
Swansea council said it wanted to deliver several events included in the bid programme, depending on funding, but in different ways and over a different timescale.
By 2021 Swansea is expected to have a new indoor arena at the St David’s development site, which will host 200 events per year, plus a multistorey car park and a glittering pedestrian bridge across Oystermouth Road. New shops, restaurants, a boutique cinema and public spaces will follow in a second phase of work.
It is one of several developments aimed at breathing new life into Swansea. But disappointment is the overriding emotion at present.
Head of cultural services at the council, Tracey McNulty, said: “Of course we’re disappointed – we had a strong bid, with credible partnerships and ambitions, and we wanted recognition for that – who wouldn’t?
“But of course, we’d like to send our heartfelt congratulations to Coventry who were a formidable opponent – we wish them all the best for 2021. We’d also like to congratulate our other three competitors on their bids and campaigns. It was a tough competition and we were very much in it to win it.
“People in Swansea and beyond all engaged in a fantastic campaign of support and, at the very least, we have demonstrated to others – locally, regionally, nationally and internationally just how far we’ve come as a city and importantly, just how far we intend to go.”
She added: “We’re still investing in culture, still investing in arts and learning, and still delivering world class cultural programmes for residents and visitors. We are not throwing the baby out with the bathwater – there is no cliff edge.”
Led by the council, with backing from the Welsh Government, the Swansea 2021 team was made up of artists, creative producers, film makers, composers, musicians, and local, regional and national organisations from the public, private and third sectors.
These included the city’s universities, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Swansea Bid (Business Improvement District), and many businesses and individuals.
Council leader Rob Stewart, said: “On behalf of the Swansea 2021 bid team, I’d like to congratulate Coventry on their success and wish them well for 2021. They ran a great campaign, and we’re sure their year as UK City of Culture will be a brilliant occasion.
“We’re proud that our bid was one of only five across the UK to be shortlisted, so we’d like to thank the many thousands of people from across Swansea, Wales and the UK who backed our bid, as well as the judging panel, whose shortlisting of our bid gave us a chance to showcase our fantastic city to audiences throughout the UK and beyond.
“But the journey doesn’t end here. We’ll now be looking to continue to build on the great work, energy, good will and enthusiasm of the bid to strengthen our status as Wales’ capital of culture in coming years.”