Lancashire to bid for UK City of Culture 2025

24 January 2019
Tony Attard OBE, Chair of Marketing Lancashire

Marketing Lancashire and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) held a meeting on 23 January to reveal the findings of scoping work undertaken by cultural expert Andrew Dixon, to  explore Lancashire’s potential and appetite to bid for UK City of Culture 2025.

Andrew, whose experience includes leading the successful Hull bid for City of Culture in 2017, was commissioned by the LEP in autumn last year and began consulting with Lancashire stakeholders through a series of interviews and a visioning workshop. Today his findings were shared with around 100 stakeholders and invited guests from the public, private and cultural sectors.

Opening the event at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) Tony Attard OBE, High Sheriff and Chair of Marketing Lancashire, said “Culture is a super accelerator for urban regeneration and the benefits of bidding for City of Culture are many. The journey will be challenging. It will demand determination, vision, finance, commitment and organization, but above all will demand an applied, unified consensus.

“The prize for Lancashire would be substantial, which is why I am advocating that we bid for UK City of Culture in 2025.”

The UK City of Culture programme was developed by the UK Government to build on the success of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture 2008 and the Cultural Olympiad in 2012, by creating a national cultural event spread over a year, focused on a particular city or area.

A successful bid by Lancashire could be a catalyst for a step change in the county’s cultural and economic development.  By means of example, City of Culture Hull 2017 reached an estimated audience of over 5 million people, leveraged £220 million of investment and created nearly 800 new jobs.

David Taylor CBE, Chair of the LEP, set out the importance of a strong cultural offer to economic growth “The direct and indirect benefits of culture to inclusive, sustainable growth are becoming ever-more understood. Culture can increase the ‘stickiness’ of places, attracting and retaining talent across all industries. Large scale events, such as City of Culture, would heighten the profile of Lancashire, bring investment, encourage partnership working and reach new audiences.”

Rachel McQueen, Chief Executive of Marketing Lancashire, presented the key findings of the scoping study and commented  “Andrew has made it clear to us that we have both the ambition and the capacity to put a compelling bid together, but that it will only be successful if it represents and is supported by the entire county.”

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion with contributions from Andrew Dixon, Tony Attard, Angie Ridgwell, Chief Executive of Lancashire County Council, County Councillor Michael Green, Laurie Peake from Super Slow Way and Joel Arber from UCLan.

The event was brought to a close by Tony Attard: “Hosting UK City of Culture in 2025 will enable us to deliver a transformational opportunity for the next generation of young people and will allow us to share the incredible cultural talent that exists across the county, as well as opening up Lancashire to new experiences and to a world class cultural programme.”

On the back of the event, work is underway to establish a bidding team that will be able to lead the development of Lancashire’s response to this opportunity. The call for applications for UK City of Culture 2025 is expected to come by the end of 2019.

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