Sunderland prepares for the second stage of its City of Culture bid - with a little help from its friends

Attendees at this week's session
Attendees at this week's session
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Seconds out, round two on Sunderland's bid to be crowned UK City of Culture 2021.

Bid bosses have roped in dozens of supporters for their thoughts on what should happen next.

More iof the faces baking the Bid.

More iof the faces baking the Bid.

More than 100 people attended a session this week to share their views on how Sunderland 2021’s second stage bid - which will be submitted on September 29 - can impact on the city.

Sunderland is among five places to make shortlist for December's announcement.

Rebecca Ball, director of Sunderland 2021, said: "It’s really exciting. It feels like it is within our grasp to win this now.

"We just have to create the best bid that we possibly, possibly can, and that’s what the session was about. Harnessing people’s passion, enthusiasm and ideas and translating that into a winning bid."

The session was attended by artists, business leaders, public sector representatives and community groups, all of whom were given a glimpse into Sunderland’s first stage bid submission, and had the opportunity to give their views on some of the key questions that the 2021 team hope to address in their bid.

Coun John Kelly is Sunderland City Council's Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture: "Making it through the first stage is important, because it shows that people beyond Sunderland believe we can do this," he said.

"Sunderland has always been a trend-setting city, and a place that has led the way. We’ve faced industries in decline and we’ve always bounced back. We’re a resilient city. Now we need to work together with a different aim.

"It’s important we make this a city-wide bid and we’ve got a responsibility to make sure we get this right across the spectrum.

"If we, this generation get this right, we create a host of opportunities for our young people. We need to be proud of what we have got and we need to be ambitious for the future. This is a hell of a city and if we can all pull together, even more than we did in the first round, we might surprise everyone.”

The delegates took part in roundtable discussions, the results of which will inform the bid team in creating the second stage bid, which will contain more detail about what 2021 would look like if Sunderland wins the title.

Graeme Thompson, chairman of Sunderland 2021, said: "Bidding for City of Culture has been the start of a great adventure, that has already been transformational for Sunderland.

"The reinvention we have seen in Sunderland has been absolutely tremendous, and a successful bid would coalesce that. If you just talk to people, they are genuinely optimistic about this and about their city. What is more exciting though, is that this is genuinely a North East bid. We have had so much support from other towns and cities around the North East and it feels like we can really do this."

Ross Millard, guitarist and singer with both the Futureheads and Frankie and the Heartstrings, was struck by the optimism and confidence in the room.

He said: "There is a feeling that we can really deliver this. Artists, performers and creative people from across the city and region can see the huge benefits this would bring, and the sector is united in its support for what is a regional bid."

Sunderland declared its intention to bid for the coveted crown in the early part of 2016. The bid was written by a team from Sunderland, Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, the University of Sunderland and Sunderland City Council, who have since formally come together as Sunderland Culture, a company set up to oversee the bid, run major city attractions and deliver large-scale cultural projects in the city. It will also raise the profile of the city’s arts provision and manage programming for the city’s cultural sector.

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