Plymouth City of Culture bid can "re-connect the city with itself", says theatre boss
PLYMOUTH'S drive to become UK City of Culture 2017 will "re-connect the city with itself", according to the chairman of the bid committee.
Adrian Vinken, chief executive of the Theatre Royal and chair of the culture board, believes the contest for the prestigious title is a chance for people living on the outskirts of Plymouth to be a part of the city's future.
Mr Vinken told The Herald: "We want to ensure this gives people and communities around the city the feeling that they are part of something.
"We want to make connections so these communities feel involved and have a real stake in events, activities and festivals and that we become one city, one ocean city.
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"It's that unifying force to get everybody feeling part of this great city and re-connecting the city with itself."
Mr Vinken defines culture as "everything that goes to make up the quality of life we have in the city and helps its development."
"Culture is the stuff we grow people in," he said. "It's what makes a Plymothian a Plymothian, as opposed to a Geordie."
Yesterday The Herald revealed the 10 other regions preparing outline bids for the 2017 title, which must be submitted by April 30.
Mr Vinken says the bid committee must draw on Plymouth's rich history – but should also embrace modern culture.
"I never cease to be amazed at what a remarkable place this is," he said. "There is a reason why there are 51 other Plymouths around the world. People went out from here and set up cultures across the globe. What we proved in the last few years by having the America's Cup and the British Art Show simultaneously in Plymouth was staggering – all we want to do is build on that."
If the bid is successful it could lead to a year of cultural events in Plymouth, attracting investment and creating jobs.
But Mr Vinken says the effects could go way beyond just a 12-month period.
"This is not just a one-off, it's not a question of waiting for 2017 and having lots of circuses and then at the end it will all stop," he said.
"It's about transforming the city for the future. We are looking at an increasing programme of events through 2014 and 2015 so that cultural activities will grow year on year. 2017 would not the end of it. It would be a stepping stone to Mayflower 2020, celebrating 400 years of cultural history between the UK and USA. By then I think the city could be in a remarkably different place. Whether or not we win this, it will be transformational for the city."
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