Why we're backing the City of Culture bid: Charlotte Beevor-Reid and David McGuinness
COULD Plymouth be the UK's City of Culture in 2017? It's wide open for the taking, and a feeling is stirring that Plymouth is on the cusp of great change. The bid is no small undertaking. If we are to be successful, three things are necessary:
1) The population of Plymouth needs to be on board
2) The city needs to promote its identity as a cultural destination to the rest of the UK
3) Most of all we need to nurture and invest in culture in the city of Plymouth, starting now, not if and when the bid is successful.
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We need to ease ourselves into the idea that Plymouth is a city of culture. The bid must engage and excite local creative practitioners and the wider public. We can start by taking stock of what's going on already.
Plymouth is more than capable of holding cutting edge cultural events, from the British Art Show in 2011 to the recent Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival and Plymouth International Book Festival. We have two art colleges and a burgeoning Design Industry.
The Theatre Royal is a starting point for many West End productions and is currently undergoing massive redevelopments.
Hollywood films such as Warhorse and Alice in Wonderland have been filmed in the surrounding areas. The Fish-Hearted Bride was an innovative performance staged recently by Effervescent at the National Marine Aquarium, that made clever use of Plymouth's distinctive identity as a seafaring city.
The popularity of events like the British Fireworks Championships shows that the people of Plymouth love to be entertained on a big scale and enjoy a good party.
We have enviable locations in The Hoe, Barbican, University and Royal William Yard, and many other, unexpected places. If Plymouth can articulate its identity as a vibrant cultural destination we can work out what we can achieve from here, and start attracting national coverage and visitors from elsewhere.