Leaders are calling on the Wearside public to throw its weight behind Sunderland’s attempt to win City of Culture status with just 100 days until it submits its bid.
Today marks the 100-day countdown until Sunderland’s first stage bid is submitted, and the team from Sunderland 2021 and the wider North East cultural community are making a plea to the whole region to show their support for a title that could bring many millions of pounds to the North East.
Sunderland is currently second favourite to scoop the City of Culture 2021 crown, and would take the title from current winner Hull.
The city will make an initial submission in April, and will hear within months whether it has made the shortlist.
Rebecca Ball, director of Sunderland 2021, said: “We need people and businesses to lend their collective voice to the campaign to make Sunderland the next City of Culture.
“The judges will be looking for a great many things from the winning city, and the competition is tough, but Sunderland is the only North East city to be competing this year, giving us a great opportunity to fly the flag for the region.
“We need as much visible support as possible, so the more people and businesses across the region who download and use the 2021 twibbon on their social media; the more places that display our posters and the more businesses who back us financially or through in-kind support, the better at this crucial stage.”
A new company – Sunderland Culture - has been formed, to improve the city’s capacity to deliver a cultural programme in 2021, should it secure the title.
The organisation, which will be run by Keith Merrin, who is currently CEO at the National Glass Centre, will oversee the bid.
Mr Merrin said: “The whole city is behind this bid, and we know we have the capabilities and capacity to deliver a stunning year of events and activities, if we are successful in this competition.
“Regardless though, the legacy of this process and the formation of Sunderland Culture, is that culture is now coming to the forefront of the city’s economic and regeneration strategy. It’s an exciting time for Sunderland.”
It is estimated that winning the status for 2017 will deliver a £60million economic boost to the Hull, creating jobs and tourism opportunities throughout the East Riding.
Projections indicate some 1,200 jobs could be created in tourism and culture, that it will bring about a 20 per cent growth in creative industries and that around seven million visitors could contribute to the £184million expected to be pumped into the local economy.
People are also being urged to help spread the word of the bid with the launch of a campaign to encourage people to #tellten.
The team is asking people to spread the word by telling ten people who may not know about Sunderland’s City of Culture Bid all the reasons Sunderland should win, and what it might mean for the North East.
Social media users are being encouraged to use the hashtag #tellten, which it is hoped will help the campaign go viral.
It is hoped that the cumulative effect of #tellten could be that thousands of new people hear about Sunderland 2021 and get behind the bid.
The Echo is supporting the bid as a media partner.