Competing cities revealed as Plymouth prepares City of Culture bid
PLYMOUTH will go up against at least four other cities in the race to be named UK City of Culture 2017.
The deadline for cities to express an interest to the Government was yesterday, and outline applications must be submitted by April 30.
The full list of competitors will be announced next week, and The Herald understands Portsmouth, Aberdeen, Leicester and Dundee have all now thrown their hats into the ring.
The Herald is backing Plymouth's bid, and over the coming weeks we will provide regular updates on the progress of the rival regions.
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Aberdeen bid manager Rita Stephen said: "Aberdeen wouldn't have entered the competition unless we thought we had a good chance of winning. We have the infrastructure in this city capable of putting on an incredible year. We have amazing artists, writers, musicians, actors, film-makers, craftsmen and craftswomen in this city who all want to be involved. And we know how to use UK City of Culture to make Aberdeen a more creative and inspiring place."
Dundee councillor Ken Guild said: "There has never been a better time for Dundee to stake a claim to be UK City of Culture. Cultural facilities have been an important component in the city's transformation in recent years. This would be a people's bid, where the population of Dundee would play a major role in events that could take place. We enjoy a strength and depth of outreach programmes and local participation that already shows the enthusiasm of Dundee people for cultural activity.
"Winning would attract in even more economic benefits, helping to regenerate communities and offering real opportunities for our people."
Kathy Wadsworth, Portsmouth City Council's director of regeneration, told the Portsmouth News: "I think we've got a good chance, and winning this really would change people's perception of Portsmouth."
During The Herald's online Q&A session yesterday, Devon South West MP Gary Streeter said he is firmly behind the city's bid.
He said: "I strongly support it and think that we can all get behind it. Our city is vibrant and dynamic and it is time the world knew more about us. The Herald is doing a great job in promoting this."
Adrian Vinken, chair of the Plymouth Culture Board which is leading the bid, said: "We know bidding to become UK City of Culture is a highly competitive process. It's a prestigious competition which is precisely why Plymouth needs to enter and we are expecting to see a range of quality entries from throughout the UK. Whilst we would wish good luck to all of them we have no doubt that Plymouth is exceptionally well placed to take on whatever the competition may throw at us. It's a spectacular place with by far the finest natural location of any city in the country and a maritime ocean heritage of global significance.
"Plymouth is the undisputed cultural capital of the South West region with a burgeoning reputation for its fine dining and overall quality of life. We are quietly confident, therefore, that Plymouth's bid will be received positively by Government and that we stand a good chance of being asked to take our plans through to fruition."
Culture Minister Ed Davey said: "The UK City of Culture is a prestigious title that is a vehicle for encouraging economic growth along with highlighting the very best of the country's cultural talent."