WATCH: What City of Culture 2021 means to Sunderland

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Sunderland’s bid to become a City of Culture 2021 is being officially backed by the Sunderland Echo.

Sunderland 2021 – which is spearheading the city’s effort to be awarded the title of City of Culture 2021 when judges name the next winner in 2017 - has penned an official partnership with the Echo.

By joining forces with the Echo, the bid team want to ensure that people in Sunderland know more about the benefits of bidding for the title, bringing the whole of the city – and the wider North East – on board to support them.

Rebecca Ball, director of Sunderland 2021, said: “The Sunderland Echo’s support is absolutely critical so we are thrilled that they are officially backing us and lending their considerable support to help tell the story of what entering – and hopefully winning – can do for the city.

“This is Sunderland’s time and we will be working night and day to develop a bid that showcases everything that we love about the city, its people, art and music. We will submit our efforts to judges, who will draw up a shortlist in the spring.

“Success will inject millions of pounds of investment into the city, and will see us host a year of fantastic cultural events that will put our city firmly on the map, so we need as much support as possible to get this over the line.”

Sunderland City of Culture Bid 2016.

Sunderland City of Culture Bid 2016.

She added: “Echo readers – the people of Sunderland – have to get behind this bid if it’s going to work. We all believe in this, we believe in our city. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity for the city and we absolutely want to win this and bring it home for everyone in Sunderland.”

Local radio station, Sun FM, is also an official media partner and the bid has started to receive backing from media outlets across the region, including BBC Radio Newcastle. Well-known city personalities are also lending their voice to the list of vocal supporters who love Sunderland and want to see it win the title.

The City of Culture contest is fiercely competitive and already nine other cities have announced that they too will be making a bid, with Coventry currently the frontrunner with the bookies.

Hull is set to see the national spotlight fall on it next year, its year of being a City of Culture. It was awarded the title in 2014 and will become City of Culture next year, when the city will welcome a £12m injection of cultural events, shows, exhibitions, gigs, concerts, festivals, artist residences and

outreach activities.

The benefits go beyond the initial year’s programme. It is estimated that winning the status will deliver a £60m economic boost to the city, 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 £184m expected to be pumped into the local economy.

Richard Ord, deputy editor at Sunderland Echo, said: “The Sunderland Echo has been behind the bid from the moment it was announced. Like our readers, we know what a fantastic city we have and like nothing better than shouting it from the rooftops.

“To win the City of Culture title would be a fantastic boon for the city and its people, bringing economic, social and cultural benefits for all. The people of Sunderland deserve this honour, and we’ll do all in our power to bring it home.”-

Take part in the conversation on Twitter by including #sunderland2021 in your posts.