Sunderland presses ahead with UK City of Culture bid

Coun. Paul Watson Leader of Sunderland City Council and Coun. Harry Trueman.
Coun. Paul Watson Leader of Sunderland City Council and Coun. Harry Trueman.
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CABINET members have given the thumbs-up to develop a bid for Sunderland to become a UK City of Culture – with a year-long programme of events to draw tourism to Wearside.

Sunderland City Council will now go ahead and prepare the city’s submission in the hope of being selected for the title in 2021.

Ten years ago we would have laughed at the suggestion of going for City of Culture or the Tall Ships.

Coun Graeme Miller

Winning the title – which is awarded every four years – could mean millions of pounds being brought to the city’s economy and cultural coffer.

Members of the Sunderland Cultural Partnership Leadership Group have visited Hull to look at how the status has helped tourism and culture.

Hull takes over the title in 2017 from Derry-Londonderry – which became the first city to win the Government-sponsored title in 2013. The UK City of Culture programme builds on the success of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture in 2008 and the Cultural Olympiad in 2012, by creating a national cultural event spread over a year, focused on a particular city or area.

A report presented to cabinet by Coun John Kelly, porfolio holder for culture, said not proceeding with the bid would be “an opportunity missed” and that the city would benefit even if unsuccessful.

Coun Pat Smith, portfolio holder for children and learning, said the bid would benefit young people in particular, who would be exposed to new experiences. “I think if anything, this would be the thing that would take the city forward,” Coun Smith said.

“As has been proved in the past it’s well worth it. After being in cities where this has happened you can really feel the buzz that goes on there.”

Council leader Paul Watson, said: “Following hot on the heels of the tall ships races, perhaps we could even go for European Capital of Culture for the North East region.”

Coun Graeme Miller said: “This is something that needs to be taken seriously.

“I think this is just how we want the city to go forward. Ten years ago we would have laughed at the suggestion of going for City of Culture or the tall ships, so I am very, very pleased we are going forward and hope we are successful.”