Sunderland’s £107million City of Culture bid was today being officially submitted.
The city’s final, second-stage bid to win the prestigious title in 2021 was being lodged with the Government without fanfare or fuss – but with plenty of hope.
The bid will now be considered alongside others from Coventry, Paisley, Swansea and Stoke before a winner is announced in Hull – the current holders – in December.
Before that, City of Culture judges will visit the city in early November.
Rebecca Ball, director of Sunderland 2021, said: "It’s a huge achievement to have made it to this stage in such a competitive process. And our 50-page submission document makes it clear we are going all out to win it!
"Bidding for the UK City of Culture title is as much about the journey, as it is the outcome. We know positive links have been established across the city that will endure for generations.
"The city has a shared focus and I’m certain that our unity will be a huge boost as we enter the final stage of this contest."
Graeme Thompson, pro vice-chancellor at University of Sunderland and Chairman of the Sunderland 2021 Steering Group, said: "Our bid is ambitious, but realistic, exciting but deliverable, transformational but affordable.
"It is the culmination of months of work by a dedicated team and a committed partnership that have galvanised the city behind the bid.
"The city deserves this honour and would deliver a celebration of arts and culture of which the country would be proud."
Funding could come from national bodies and organisations such as Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and major charitable trusts.
Others likely to invest include businesses and private sponsors.
Paul Callaghan, of the Mac Trust, said: "Being part of this competition has created an opportunity for us to unite the city and wider region.
"It makes me so proud to represent our fine city as we enter the final stage of this bid, and it is huge testament to the Sunderland 2021 team that we are here.
"Most importantly, a big thank you goes to the people of Sunderland and the North East, whose enthusiasm has shone throughout our campaign."
Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "It’s been really heartening to see such fantastic grass roots support for this bid right across Sunderland and the North East. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our unique culture than by winning the UK City of Culture.
"It would be a huge boost for the city and the region.
"Sunderland is seeing such a period of unprecedented change.
"From our cultural renaissance and infrastructure projects like the New Wear Crossing, the Vaux site and the regeneration of our seafront to the development of buildings like The Fire Station, we have the potential to achieve so much here."
The UK City of Culture title is designed to use culture as a catalyst for economic and social regeneration and to raise the profile of arts and creativity.
It also helps cities develop a broader arts and culture sector, as well as attract increased business investment and boost tourism.
The bid has been overseen by Sunderland Culture, supported by partners Sunderland City Council, the University of Sunderland and Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (Mac) Trust.
Sunderland Culture was set up to run major attractions and deliver large-scale cultural projects in the city.
It also raises the profile of the city’s arts provision and will manage programming for the city’s cultural sector.
HOW WIN COULD BE WORTH MILLIONS
Being named UK City of Culture 2021 could boost Sunderland’s economy by more than £100million, say bid bosses.
It is estimated winning would mean a sustainable boost to the city’s cultural sector of at least 30%, creating 150 new businesses and 750 jobs.
Becoming City of Culture would mean an estimated £80million boost to Sunderland’s visitor economy, creating an additional 400 sustainable jobs.
And the budget for the project would include a programme of preparatory activities worth about £14million and a legacy budget of more than £40million, generating further economic impact in the city – Hull has seen a £3billion boost since being announced as winner in 2013.
A University of Hull study found more than half of city centre businesses reported increased footfall, more than a third had seen a rise in turnover and more than a quarter an increase in profit in the first three months of being City of Culture.
Sunderland bid director Rebecca Ball said: "These fantastic statistics show the sort of huge benefits we’d enjoy from a successful bid. It would boost the city economically, socially and culturally, and we’d also expect to see significant increases in levels of well being, confidence and pride.
"These latest statistics are hugely impressive, but what they don’t do is tell the individual stories of lives, families and communities transformed by the cultural opportunities the year offers. Nor can they predict the legacy and that is of equal importance to a brilliant year of successful events and activities."