City of Culture status could bring millions of pounds to Plymouth
A SUCCESSFUL bid to be UK City of Culture in 2017 would be provide a multi-million pound boost to Plymouth according to a leading figure in this year's event.
The city council announced this week that a bid would be submitted to win the contest, launched by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland has been the trail-blazer as the inaugural UK City of Culture this year.
The city that was once at the heart of Northern Ireland's Troubles has reinvented itself on the back of the status.
And Derry's Culture Company believes the city will earn at least £10million from this year's high-profile events.
Chris McCann from the Culture Company, told The Herald that Derry-Londonderry, as it is officially known, won through because of massive support from its residents. I would tell the people of Plymouth to get behind this because the benefits are outstanding," he said.
"As soon as the competition was opened the people got behind the bid.
"We had 20,000 [a fifth of the population] on our Facebook page supporting the bid.
"There is a palpable buzz in the air here. Everyone is struggling with the economy but this has given us a real positive sense of something happening. The city put together a detailed bid document and a high-profile promotional video.
There were also concerts and social media campaigns targeted at winning the bid.
Derry's Culture Company will run about 160 events during the year, not counting fringe events laid on by other groups.
Mr McCann said a conservative estimate was that being City of Culture would bring £100million into the city's economy.
"Being City of Culture 2013 has helped us to reposition the city," he said.
"Outside of Northern Ireland most people's views have been coloured by images of conflict and that's not what this place is any more.
"A city which is geographically on the periphery of the British Isles is going to be host to the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Ballet and the Turner Prize, among other things.
"This underlines that we are a city that is vibrant and a great place to visit."
He said the PR value was immense, with a travel feature in the New York Times, an eight-page supplement in the Telegraph, and coverage in the Independent on Sunday and on the BBC.
The books editor of The Sunday Times has visited to write a feature, and Lonely Planet has rated Derry number four in 2013's list of cities to visit.
They have also had journalists visiting from Australia and New Zealand, Spain, Italy and Norway.
"It has done wonders for the place. Before, when people saw Derry in the media it was generally in a negative context. Now it's about the city as a crucible of culture.
"It has given a new sense of confidence to the people.
"We were always aware this was a great place but we didn't shout about it."