That was the message as Sunderland’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2017 was formally submitted yesterday afternoon.
This is an important day but it is only one milestone in a number of milestones.Rebecca Ball
The city’s second-stage bid has been lodged with the Government.
Sunderland will now go head-to-head with the other short-listed cities - Coventry, Paisley, Swansea and Stoke - before a winner is announced in December.
A social media campaign was orchestrated to coincide with the bid and the hashtag #sunderland2021 was one of the top five trends nationwide in the minutes after the bid was formally submitted.
Those Tweeting their support for the bid included West End star Ben Forster, musicians Dave Stewart and Field Music, Wearside MPs Julie Elliott, Bridget Phillipson and Sharon Hodgson and the official SAFC account.
Bid director Rebecca Ball said: “I think we are all really excited about the bid.
“It is a great day, but it has been a lot of hard work pulling together all the information.
“When you see it all coming together, with the photos, the stats, we have got a really strong case.
“Overwhelmingly, I feel excited, but obviously a little bit nervous, too - just a little bit.
“It has been like a year-long test. We had the guidance issued in January, we had the first stage application in April, the announcement we had made the shortlist in July, the second stage submission in September and then we have the judges’ visit to come.
“So this is an important day but it is only one milestone in a number of milestones.”
Graeme Thompson, pro vice-chancellor at University of Sunderland, is chairman of the Sunderland 2021 Steering Group: “I think Sunderland is in an absolutely amazing position,” he said.
“It is a real cultural powerhouse in the North East. I think what this bid will do is to increase confidence and ambition in the city and to create a real step change for Sunderland.
“We have got about £1.5billion being invested in the city in the new few years in things like the new bridge and the amazing stuff that is happening down at the seafront.
“And when you look back over the last three or four years, we have had the MAC Quarter, we’ve got the University investing in the National Glass Centre and the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, there are ambitious plans for Pop Recs.
“Sunderland is starting to punch above its weight as a cultural centre and this bid will increase the momentum for that.”