Swansea has taken a step closer to being crowned the UK City of Culture 2021, having made the shortlist to become the third UK city to boast the coveted title, following in the footsteps of Derry in 2013 and Hull, the current City of Culture 2017.
The 2021 bid team, which includes Swansea Council, creative professionals, both Universities, health and business, and arts and cultural leaders, is delighted that the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and their independent assessment panel saw enough merit in its initial bid to take it through to the next stage.
The bid, submitted in April, was confined by the criteria to a short and punchy statement outlining the impact that Swansea could gain from the status, alongside ideas for a programme of exciting, thought-provoking, memorable and fun activities for everyone in the city. Ten other cities also put forward their bids, all equally committed and passionate about being the UK City of Culture – so Swansea has good cause to celebrate as it enters the final leg of the competition alongside Coventry, Sunderland, Stoke and Paisley.
Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: “We are very excited to have passed this key milestone in achieving the status of UK City of Culture 2021 and I want to thank everyone in the Swansea community who has already taken this important campaign to their heart.
“One of the things the bid team has been very keen to do in these very early stages of our drive to win the UK City of Culture 2021 bid was to bring the whole city along with us.
“We have stayed true to our city’s core belief that culture is for everyone and that our residents and visitors will benefit long-term from taking part in a wide-ranging programme of high quality arts, events and leisure activities – in the lead up to, during and after 2021. We have highlighted the fact that culture is already a part of the lives of everyone who lives and works in Swansea – whether you enjoy this city for its theatres and dance events, its music venues and beach culture, its museums, galleries and libraries, its buzzing social life, its sporting thrills, its parks, restaurants, clubs or choirs – these are the very ingredients that will be expanded and amplified for the whole of the UK to enjoy, if we are the selected city. This stage in the competition is tough but the benefits of winning belong to us all, so I would urge everyone to get behind Swansea’s campaign and show the assessors that we are ready to deliver this. We want every single person in Swansea to be a part of this process and to gain from it. This is our city, we are ‘Team Swansea’ so please look out for our Swansea 2021 campaign over the coming weeks and months, and do all you can to get behind it.
“You only have to look at what the UK City of Culture 2017 has done for Hull to see how valuable this initiative is. The city, its people and its cultural offering have been put on the map, they have created some head-turning cultural events and projects, and it is estimated that the value of investment in their programmes and in their city centre comes in at more than £100 million in funding from bodies like the Arts Council and the National Lottery and from private businesses based in and investing in the city.”
Now Swansea has been shortlisted, the UK City of Culture 2021 bid team must ensure their final bid is the strongest one, in order to prove to the UK Government and their panel of experts that Swansea deserves to, and can, fly the culture flag for the whole of the UK, before the panel makes its final decision in December. This will involve working on the feedback to build the bid into a full and final submission, detailing how Swansea will attract visitors and gain the greatest economic and social impact, with a programme that is world class. Arts, business, research, health and cultural professionals in Swansea are now working on these details, inviting contributions from national organisations working across Wales and the UK, to demonstrate that our 2021 bid will engage the whole of the UK.
Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Major Projects, said: “If Swansea is awarded UK City of Culture 2021 it would help us get so much more impact, much more quickly, from our current plans for culture-led regeneration of the city. We have been busy working on our long-term cultural plan, to ensure culture and creativity, leisure, recreation, skills development, jobs in the creative industries, tourism, events and diversity are central to our regeneration, and by 2021 we will be in an even stronger position to deliver this.
“Just last week, we appointed ATG (Ambassador Theatre Group) as our new digital indoor arena operator. With work due to start next year in readiness for a 2020 opening, this will complement our other much-valued venues like the Grand Theatre, our museums and galleries and the range of independent arts, music and cultural venues, current and planned as part of the High Street and Swansea Central regeneration. We have a growing number of festivals, large-scale events and an increasingly diverse cultural programme which gives us confidence for our ambitions for Swansea to be a world class city.”
This post is also available in: Welsh