Plymouth aims to be UK City of Culture in 2017
AN AMBITIOUS move for Plymouth to become the UK City of Culture 2017 has been revealed.
Initial talks are taking place between a city arts figure and civic leaders with a view to a bid being launched for the prestigious title.
Speaking yesterday at a press conference on Plymouth College of Art's plans for its own free school, its principal Professor Andrew Brewerton, said Plymouth could be the "ideal" candidate.
Boasting such a title could lead to the creation of thousands of jobs and a boost to tourism, as well as a lasting legacy.
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The City of Culture tag allows the host city to devise a programme of events and projects which reflects its identity, showcases its culture and raises its profile, opening the doors to increased private investment and regeneration.
"In 2014 applications for the UK City of Culture 2017 have got to be made," said Prof Brewerton.
"What if, as a city, we went into the application round for this with a radical arts project, so that Plymouth becomes more of a place of arrival and less of a place where people leave on boats.
"That is our vision. We are having this conversation with our partners in the city.
"There is a ground swell out there and there are other cities preparing bids.
"Plymouth is an ideal candidate. It would create the most amazing dress rehearsal for celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the voyage of The Mayflower in 2020."
Prof Brewerton said the consideration for Plymouth to become the UK City of Culture 2017 came on the back of the hugely-popular British Art Show 7 staged last year.
"As a venue for the British Art Show 7, Plymouth College of Art welcomed 9,000 visitors to its gallery space and – ignoring the sceptics – Plymouth people showed in their tens-of-thousands an open curiosity and interest in contemporary art," he said.
"In the wake of this Plymouth has a short window of opportunity to position itself – by means of a radical arts education project and the further legacy of a recurring signature arts event (in shorthand, an international art biennial) – as the perfect candidate for UK City of Culture 2017."
He added: "The question is how we bring it together, and what form it will take.
"We have a lot of the infrastructure now, but we have got to develop the energy for this from creativity through to employment."
Inspired by Liverpool's success as European Capital of Culture in 2008, the Government launched a UK City of Culture competition.
Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland was named as the UK's first City of Culture in 2010 ahead of bids from Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield.
It will host a huge number of events next year as the 'City of Culture'.
Experts believe the accolade will create up to 3,000 jobs in the Londonderry area and provide a massive boost to tourism.
See Page 17 for the latest on Plymouth College of Art's plans for its own free school.