Retired dentist Michael Oliver has had his fill of having to look outside Sunderland for his dose of culture.
That’s why the 57-year-old, who spent his working life in Sunderland, is championing its bid to be named the UK City of Culture 2021.
A passionate Sunderland AFC fan, Michael has always had an interest in arts and culture.
Today, with 20 days to go until the UK City of Culture final bid has to be submitted, he explained why he has become a culture champion.
“As a proud Mackem lad I’ve always had a tremendous energy for my home city.
“Sunderland has so much to offer – and the boost we’d get from winning this bid would be absolutely enormous.
“The ideas and the ambitions are there. We just need a bit of structure which would come with a successful bid.
“It frustrates me a little bit at having to go through to Newcastle or Durham to spend my money on culture – restaurants, theatre.”
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.