UK City of Culture shortlist revealed

Bradford 2025

Bradford has been revealed as one of the four locations to make the shortlist for the UK City of Culture 2025.

Alongside the West Yorkshire city, Nadine Dorries, Culture Secretary approved County Durham, Southampton and Wrexham County Borough, after independent advice made to the government by a panel of experts led by Sir Phil Redmond.

The four finalists were whittled down from a record 20 initial bids which also included Wakefield which despite putting itself forward for the accolade, did not making the long list revealed last October.

All bids were asked to explain how they would use culture to grow and strengthen their local area, as well as how they would use culture to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bradford has been vocal about the role it sees culture playing in its future economic growth, announcing this week a new resource to support filmmakers in the district. In the initial bid process Bradford garnered support both at events in London and across the district with Morrisons, Jinnah Group, Rushbond, Yorkshire Building Society, Schofield Sweeney and Yeme Architects all backing the bid, alongside many others.

The news has been welcomed across the the region with the potential impact of winning the title described as a “game-changer” which would firmly put the city on both the national and international stage.

Credit: Tim Smith

Shanaz Gulzar TV presenter, artist and chair of Bradford 2025 said: “This is fantastic news! We’d like to thank the thousands of people, community organisations, businesses and the creative community across the whole of the Bradford district who have thrown their support behind the campaign and helped us shape what we believe is a winning bid. We’re keeping the details of our entry tightly under wraps for now, as the competition heats up, but I can say that our bid is rooted in the heritage and character of the Bradford district, and will reveal the magic of its people, its ambition, its uniqueness and above all its potential.

“We’re representing Yorkshire, as the only bidding city from the region left in the contest – and we can be proof of the major role culture can play in levelling up. The title is within touching distance, and we look forward to welcoming the judges when they visit the shortlisted places in May. We’re ready to write a new chapter in the story of this young, diverse district. This really is our time.”

Sir Roger Marsh

Sir Roger Marsh OBE DL, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and NP11 group of Northern LEPs, said: “It’s tremendous news that Bradford has been shortlisted for City of Culture 2025 and I’m backing the bid every step of the way. It’s a recognition of Bradford’s deep artistic and cultural heritage, the talent and creativity on display and its place in modern British culture.

“I hope being shortlisted for City of Culture 2025 will be a catalyst for Bradford’s continuing regeneration, boosting the visitor economy and creating jobs and prosperity. We have seen the positive impact that being named or shortlisted for City of Culture has had on other cities in the past.

“I hope being shortlisted will also encourage people from across the district and West Yorkshire to get involved in cultural activities in their communities and beyond.”

West Yorkshire Mayor, Tracy Brabin, said: “Being shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2025 is a powerful recognition of Bradford’s vibrant, diverse cultural and creative sector. Supporting cultural activities, creativity and the creative sector across West Yorkshire is one of my key priorities as Mayor. I hope being shortlisted will encourage more people to get involved and be an opportunity to show the best of the Bradford district to the rest of the UK and beyond.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council said she was delighted that Bradford had been shortlisted adding: “This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the team. We have always been a creative and innovative district, full of interesting and inspiring people drawn here from across the globe and Bradford 2025 bid has really highlighted this. It’s an exciting time, with lots of cultural and creative events and activities for people to get involved in as we emerge from a tough two years.”

The vast benefits of winning the prestigious of City of Culture include attracting millions of pounds in additional investment to help boost regeneration, a year in the cultural spotlight with hundreds of events encouraging long-lasting participation in the arts, and growth for local tourism.

Sir Phil Redmond, chair of the City of Culture Expert Advisory Panel, said: “Culture can act as a catalyst for community engagement, civic cohesion and a driver for economic and social change as previously seen not just in Derry-Londonderry (2013), Hull (2017) and Coventry (2021), but all those other places who went on a journey to develop their own cultural strategy. Simply taking part has proved a catalyst in itself. We have had a great longlist to select from, which made the shortlisting difficult, but I am now looking forward to visiting each of the shortlisted places with the panel to witness culture’s catalytic effect in action.”

Coventry is the current UK City of Culture for 2021, with events running until June this year due to the impact of the pandemic. The has seen more than £172m million invested in funding as a result of receiving the title, including the creation of the UK’s first permanent immersive digital art gallery, with a further £500 million having been invested into the city’s regeneration since it was confirmed as the UK City of Culture.

Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive, Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “This is such an exciting moment for the shortlisted cities and we wish them all the best for the next stage. Holding the title in Coventry has been a privilege and has made a considerable impact already on the City and its citizens. We can’t wait to see what comes next for those who’ve used the bidding process to truly consider the value of culture – all will have inspired the next generation of artists, organisations, funders and supporters.”

The expert advisory panel, chaired by Sir Phil Redmond, will now visit the four shortlisted places before making their final recommendation in May before the winner is announced later this year in Coventry.