Cul­ture can still be at heart of city re­gen­er­a­tion, in­sists team

Western Mail - - NEWS -

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.”

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