Community will come together if Sunderland is named City of Culture 2021

Sunderland as a whole community would benefit from being named UK City of Culture 2021.

That's the sincerely-held belief of Shahzana Aslam, who is one of 21 culture champions backing its bid for the prestigious title.

Shahzana Aslam says the whole community would benefit from Sunderland being named UK City of Culture 2021.

Shahzana Aslam says the whole community would benefit from Sunderland being named UK City of Culture 2021.

Today, with 18 days to go until the UK City of Culture final bid has to be submitted, she explained why she thinks a successful bid would be so good for Sunderland.

Shahzana is a development officer at the BME Network and a senior youth worker at Young Asian Voices, and lives in Fulwell.

She firmly believes that a successful City of Culture bid would improve community cohesion in Sunderland.

“I’m sure a successful bid would help so much with integration between people of different ages, cultures and backgrounds.

"It would help bring people together, improving community cohesion across the city.

“I’d like so see the 2021 programme bring back the Mela on the seafront – there was 20,000 people at the last one and it was such a great event.

“If we win the bid, it would have a tremendous legacy.

"Sunderland in 2022 would be far more vibrant, with more restaurants, cafes and cultural activities.”

Sunderland is up against Coventry, Paisley, Swansea and Stoke as it bids to be named UK City of Culture.

A successful bid would put the city firmly into the cultural spotlight, attracting millions of pounds into the local economy through investment in the arts and an increase in visitors and jobs.

It would kick-start a four-year period of growth, innovation and creativity and culminate in a year of exciting cultural and artistic events.

Final second-round bids must be submitted by September 29, and the successful city will be announced in Hull, the current UK City of Culture, in December.