City could host top events if culture bid is successful
THE Brit Awards and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year could come to Plymouth if the city wins a bid to be UK City of Culture, a heritage conference has been told.
Talks began earlier this year on an ambitious move to host UK City of Culture 2017.
Abby Johnson, executive director of the Plymouth Culture Board, said yesterday that the board was poised to lead a bid.
She told a conference on "the Future Of Our Heritage" in Plymouth Guildhall that the Government was expected to announce details in November.
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"You don't get any money, which is probably not a surprise," Ms Johnson said.
"But you do get a programme of events like the Turner Prize, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, the Brit Awards and the UK Film Festival."
Derry/Londonderry, which is 2013 UK City of Culture, has a programme of events which includes the Turner Prize.
Ms Johnson said the objectives were to catalyse development of a cultural economy, unleash talent, and build a sustainable cultural environment.
"Culture is a mechanism to deliver wider economic and social goals," she said. "It is a catalyst for change."
She said 2017 was a pivotal point on the road to the Mayflower 2020 celebrations, marking the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim Fathers' arrival in America.
"Plymouth has a great story to tell. It has a fantastic history and all the ingredients to put together a really strong bid.
"It is a city whose history is the history of the British Isles – a city of explorers, wayfarers, migrants and immigrants, sailors and survivors.
"There is something unique about this city and we should have a go."
Ms Johnson called on members of the arts, cultural, historical and heritage organisations represented at yesterday's conference to add their ideas to the bid.
"It has to be a bottom up bid and not imposed from above."
Expressions of interest in competing to be host city will have to be made in January next year, followed by bids in April and a short-list in June or July.
The winning city will be announced next autumn.
Derry/Londonderry will be the first UK City of Culture, next year.
The Northern Ireland city beat off competition from 28 others to win the title.
In the summer a delegation from Plymouth met the then Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to discuss a Plymouth bid.
Oliver Colvile, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, lobbied the Secretary of State with Theatre Royal chief executive Adrian Vinken, and Professor Andrew Brewerton from Plymouth College of Art.
Mr Colvile said afterwards: "He fully understands that we have a good story to tell."
Other cities said to be considering vying for the title include Leicester, Derby, and Aberdeen.
The UK City of Culture project was launched by the government after Liverpool was the European Capital of Culture in 2008.
Experts believe it will create up to 3,000 jobs in the Londonderry area and provide a massive boost to tourism.
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