Competition receives record 20 bids
County Durham, Bradford and Cornwall have all made it on to the longlist for the UK’s City of Culture 2025.
They will be joined by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Derby, Southampton, Stirling and Wrexham County Borough as the eight hopefuls battle it out for the title.
It comes after the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) received a record 20 bids following the announcement those successfully longlisted would for the first time receive £40,000 to develop a full application.
The longlist was recommended by an independent panel of experts after the bids were asked to explain how they would use culture to grow and strengthen their local area and to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The winner, which will be announced next year, will take on the baton from Coventry, the 2021 UK City of Culture.
Announcing the longlist on Friday, culture secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Winning the UK City of Culture competition has a hugely positive impact on an area, driving investment, creating jobs, and highlighting that culture is for everyone, regardless of their background.
“This year’s focus is on levelling up access to culture across the country and making sure there is a legacy that continues for generations to come.
“I look forward to seeing what this brilliant longlist has in store as they continue in the competition.”
Sir Phil Redmond, chair of the City of Culture expert advisory panel, said: “For the first time, each longlisted city will receive financial support to help them develop their vision.
“Each is different. Each has its own story to tell. All share a common aim: to demonstrate how culture can act as the creative catalyst for change. I am really looking forward to seeing how each story develops.”
The competition, delivered by DCMS in collaboration with the Offices for Scotland and Wales and the Northern Ireland Executive, uses culture as a tool for levelling up towns and cities across the country.
UK government minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “I’m particularly pleased that Stirling is in the running for this prestigious award. With its fascinating history and vibrant creative scene, it’s a strong contender for the title.
“I look forward to seeing proposals develop as Stirling strives to bring the UK City of Culture to Scotland for the first time.”
Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis said: “I am delighted that Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, and Northern Ireland, continues to be represented in the longlist for the prestigious UK City of Culture 2025 title.
“Northern Ireland has a wonderful heritage in this competition, with Derry-Londonderry being a previous winner in 2013. I have no doubt that Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon will showcase the very best of what Northern Ireland has to offer the UK.”
While Welsh secretary Simon Hart added: “In a fantastic field of UK City of Culture bids, Wrexham has done extremely well to fly the flag for Wales by reaching the longlist.
“I wish them every success as they seek to become the first Welsh holder of the UK City of Culture title with all the opportunities it will bring to an area of huge cultural pedigree which contains the World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, one of the world’s oldest football clubs in Wrexham FC and the Stiwt Theatre.”