Sunderland’s City of Culture 2021 bid praised in Parliament

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott addresses the Westminster Hall debate
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott addresses the Westminster Hall debate

Sunderland’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2021 has gone to Parliament.

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott led a Westminster Hall debate in which she said a successful bid would allow the city to ‘prosper and grow’ as well as show the rest of the UK how culture can transform a city.

Sunderland needs 2021 to make sure our resurgence continues, that the next generation can see every reason to stay in the city and no reason to leave.”

Julie Elliott MP

Fellow Wearside MPs Bridget Phillipson and Sharon Hodgson were also on hand.

“If we won 2021 would be the culmination of ten years of preparation,” said Ms Elliott.

“Over these years a revival has begun, a renaissance shaped and powered by culture. We have embedded arts and culture at the core of our economic masterplan and invested heavily both in infrastructure and people’s creativity and talent.

“If you visit Sunderland now you will see physical regeneration happening on a scale I can’t remember.

“Sunderland needs 2021 to make sure our resurgence continues, that the next generation can see every reason to stay in the city and no reason to leave.”

And she highlighted how support has come from our near neighbours: “Even the old rivalries between Sunderland and Newcastle have been put to one side, with Newcastle City Council passing a motion in support of our bid.

“Neither City of Culture nor the European Capital of Culture have been awarded to the North East and it’s time one of them was.”

Arts Minister John Glen said Sunderland had been a ‘great shipbuilding city,’ and had since reinvented itself with developments such as the National Glass Centre, the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and Museum and Winter Gardens.

“Looking forward it is absolutely clear that there is a clear cultural vision for Sunderland, including the new MAC quarter and the restoration of significant heritage sites like Hylton Castle and Roker Pier,” he said.

And he paid tribute to City Council leader Coun Paul Watson who died earlier this month: “I know Coun Watson was a passionate and influential campaigner for Sunderland and the North East, and was a great supporter of the bid.”