City of Culture judge Phil Redmond praises Sunderland bid

UK City of Culture judge Phil Redmond during a visit to Sunderland
UK City of Culture judge Phil Redmond during a visit to Sunderland
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Speaking after Thursday night's result, UK City of Culture 2021 judge Phil Redmond spoke of how impressed he was with Sunderland's efforts.

Along with the other judges, he visited the city for a day last month to see what we had to offer, including the £3.5million Fire Station, National Glass Centre and Arts Centre Washington.

He said he liked the combination of our bid's focus on our heritage, whilst also looking to the future.

"I thought Sunderland's bid was very good," he said. "I made the point constantly, to all five cities, that they could have made a very credible year, which made it very difficult to decide.

"What I liked about Sunderland's bid was the idea of looking back to a 1400-year-old city of culture, with the first stained glass, Venerable Bede, and all those things. But I really liked the idea of trying to change perceptions, that it's not all about the past, that the best is yet to come.

"We also asked each of the five cities what they would do if they won, but also what they would do if they didn't. And with Sunderland we were encouraged to hear that they will carry on with a lot of the things they planned to do, obviously not on the same scale, but they will carry on."

Speaking about the final decision, which was only made after the closing presentations on Thursday morning, Phil said: "It was very hard, but there could only be one winner and we decided that it was Coventry that would make the most impact.

"We set out to find a city that would push the bid further and make a bigger impact across the UK. If you asked me to write down on a piece of paper why right now it would be very difficult because it's a cultural decision. We had to consider all the factors, including economic impact, social impact, digital strategies and legacy strategies and in the end that was Coventry."

Despite Sunderland losing this time round, Phil says that may not be the end of the road for the city.

He said: "If you look at Hull they didn't make the shortlist in 2013, but they came back in 2017. So I don't know, perhaps this is the start of Sunderland's journey, that's up to the city to decide."