Plymouth will join the race to be City of Culture
PLYMOUTH will be in the race to be the UK City of Culture 2017.
The starting gun has been fired in the contest – and last night the city council's deputy leader confirmed that Plymouth would be in the running.
Until now the city council has said only that it was considering bidding for the high-profile status.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey yesterday launched the nationwide contest to find the 2017 City of Culture.
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The competition, which comes in the same week that Derry-Londonderry officially kicks off its year as the inaugural UK City of Culture, is designed to use culture and creativity as a catalyst to transform communities and showcase artistic talent.
Councillor Peter Smith, deputy leader of Plymouth City Council, said: "This is the announcement we've been waiting for.
"It signals the official start of this exciting competition and Plymouth will be submitting a bid for the title.
"We must be conscious of the economic conditions we are operating in and we will be working with our partners including Plymouth University and the private sector to consider carefully the investment decisions at each stage.
"However, we do believe this is a fantastic opportunity for Plymouth. We are an ambitious city and culture can stimulate exciting transformations.
"This could make a real difference to people here, driving investment and economic growth, and it fits in with the work we're already doing to attract visitors to the city and raise aspirations."
Professor Wendy Purcell, Plymouth University chief executive and vice-chancellor, said: "This is an exciting opportunity to work in partnership to continue the transformation of our city, creating a lasting cultural and economic legacy for the whole community.
"Together with Plymouth City Council, the Culture Board and the wider support of the people of Plymouth, we are committed to making this happen, and on a grand scale with impact."
Cities interested in submitting bids have to register with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport by the end of February. Bids for the 2017 competition must be received by the end of April and a shortlist will be announced in June.
It's hoped the announcement of who has won will be made in Derry-Londonderry in November this year.
Mr Vaizey, the Culture Minister, 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.
"Derry-Londonderry are already making the most of the opportunities and I would urge other local authorities and partnerships across the length and breadth of the UK to consider putting themselves forward."
In December the city council and Plymouth University agreed to contribute £20,000 each towards the expression of interest – on condition that it is matched by the private sector.
Last month the Plymouth Area Business Council (PABC) set the ball rolling by promising to donate the first £1,000 of private cash.
The City of Culture status would bring a range of top national events such as the Brits, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year and the Turner Prize to Plymouth.
A programme of high-quality events, performances and exhibitions would attract a huge audience.
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