Why teenager Emmet is backing Sunderland's 2021 city of culture bid

Sixth former Emmet O'Leary is the youngest of Sunderland's 21 culture champions.
Sixth former Emmet O'Leary is the youngest of Sunderland's 21 culture champions.

Emmet O’Leary, 16, of Washington, is the youngest of the 21 community champions backing Sunderland's bid to be named UK City of Culture 2021.

But what the St Robert of Newminster sixth former lacks in years, he makes up for in passion for the bid and for Wearside.

Today, with 13 days to go until the UK City of Culture bid final bid has to be submitted, he explains why he has become a community culture champion.

“I think being City of Culture would make a tremendous difference to the whole city, but particularly young people growing up here.

“A more vibrant city would make more of a mark on young people - more would want to stay and others would be drawn into Sunderland.

“I think the injection of funds at such a national scale would benefit everyone living in the city – there is already a diverse range of events, but this would take things a lot further.

“I think everyone who lives here feels like they’re part of a big community, and being City of Culture would allow us to build on what we already have.

“If we do win, I’d like to see interactive projects play a big role in the programme of events, especially at our museums.”

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.