Minister reveals full list of cities competing with Plymouth for culture title
THE full list of 11 places competing to become UK City of Culture 2017 was revealed today.
Plymouth will go up against Aberdeen; Chester; Dundee; East Kent; Hastings and Bexhill on Sea; Hull; Leicester; Portsmouth and Southampton; Southend on Sea and Swansea Bay for the title.
Culture minister Ed Vaizey said: "This is fantastic news and shows the appetite for the prestigious City of Culture title is in healthy supply right across the length and breadth of the country.
"The competition brings together communities and creates economic and social benefits and I am pleased to see so many local authorities and different partners coming together. I wish all 11 the best of luck."
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All applicants have until April 30 to submit their initial bids, which will be considered by an independent advisory panel chaired by TV producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond. The panel will then draw up a shortlist which will be announced in June.
"The UK City of Culture can be a real catalyst for change," Mr Redmond said. "I'm delighted so many places have registered their interest in the competition.
"I'm looking forward to receiving some ambitious and dynamic bids that highlight the very best of local cultural talent, along with delivering a realistic programme that will appeal to as wide an audience as possible."
The bidding process is being run by the Department for Culture Media and Sport, and cities have been encouraged to "be distinctive, ambitious, and represent your local area" in their initial bids.
The guidance also asks for applicants to "demonstrate cultural excellence, show innovation that will attract and entertain a huge range of audiences, be realistic and deliverable."
Adrian Vinken, chairman of the Plymouth Culture Board, told The Herald the key to the city's bid was to identify its strengths and get the public excited by culture. He said: "It's about getting the Government to understand what is special about this city and making the case so they will back us.
"Then it's getting the community energised, ensuring that people feel they have a stake in the city, that they can influence the activities that take place and that they feel they can be a voice in the future of the city. What's very encouraging is that the local authority, despite being under great pressure financially, see how important this could be for this city. We are cautiously optimistic about it."
Victory could mean bringing glitzy events such as the Brit Awards and Turner Prize to the city, as well as creating a dazzling calendar of other activities.