Sunderland’s bid to be crowned the UK City of Culture 2021 is in.
The city’s bid team has formally submitted has submitted the first stage of its application and the decision to whittle down the final eleven bidding towns and cities to an expected shortlist of four is now in the hands of judges representing the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Sunderland’s bid, which is expected to attract investment to the whole of the North East, will face stiff competition as it goes up against Coventry, Hereford, Paisley, Perth, Portsmouth, St Davids, Stoke, Swansea, Warrington and Wells in a battle for the title.
Organisers say winning City of Culture status would provide a multi-million-pound boost for the city - it is estimated Hull, the reigning City of Culture, will see its economy boosted by an extra £60million by the end of 2017.
The bid includes a list of Sunderland’s cultural highlights including the Empire Theatre, National Glass Centre and Penshaw Monument.
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott is optimistic about the city’s chances.
I am really proud of what we have brought together.Rebecca Ball
“I think it is a fantastic bid,” she said.
“A lot of people have come together to make a brilliant submission and I think we have got a really good chance. I think Sunderland just has something special to offer.”
Winning the bid would give the country a national showcase: “It will bring people to Sunderland who have never been here before and hopefully they will come back realise how wonderful we are.”
Paul Callaghan, from the Sunderland Music, Art and Culture Trust, said: “It has been two years of hard work and we have talked to thousands of people in Sunderland who have told us what they want, what they are calling for.
“It is a really ambitious, visionary bid for Sunderland.”
City council leader Coun Paul Watson said winning the bid would be a big confidence boost for Sunderland: “It is about giving the city confidence, giving the people, of the city confidence that we are a vibrant, mainstream city that has a lot going on.”
For Bid director Rebecca Ball, it is a nail-biting time: “It feels really exciting to be at this point,” she said.
“It has been a long process but it has now come to a finish.
“I am really proud of what we have brought together.”