Wakefield in bid to become UK City of Culture 2025

Councillor Denise Jeffrey
X The Business Desk

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Representatives of Wakefield Council have joined cultural leaders and organisations today to launch the city’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025.

Home to attractions such as the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Hepworth Wakefield, and Production Park, a centre for the live events industry, the district has gained a reputation for successfully backing these destinations, alongside celebrating heritage with the likes of The National Coal Mining Museum and supporting a wide variety of arts at the Wakefield Theatre Royal.

It is hoped these cultural and creative assets will see the district named as the UK City of Culture 2025 and continue to drive further investment, building on ambitious plans to make Wakefield the creative hub for the North.

Council leader, Councillor Denise Jeffery, said: “We want to put Wakefield on the map as a lead cultural destination across the country and beyond.

“We want to share with the public, region and world what Wakefield has to offer.

“Our bid will be a truly collaborative effort, working closely with the cultural businesses and organisations that make our city and district great.”

Within the city, transformation programmes are taking place to repurpose disused assets into creative spaces, including the redevelopment of the former Wakefield Market Hall, Rutland Mills and Castleford Mill.

The investment in the historic Rutland Mills complex at Wakefield Waterfront will see the creation of a diverse cultural landmark for the north.

It is the culmination of 15 years of regeneration of the waterfront area and creates a brand new vibrant central events square.

Jeffrey added: “We know this is an ambitious bid, and that some other areas have been working towards this for some time.

“However, Wakefield fits the new criteria perfectly and we want to use this opportunity to showcase our impressive cultural offer and bring residents and partners together to celebrate all we have to offer.

“We hope this bid will bring long-term benefits to everyone across the district, including attracting more visitors and investment into the area, boosting jobs, increasing skills and business opportunities and creating even more exciting opportunities to take part in arts and cultural activities.”

Cllr Michael Graham, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: “We are proud of Wakefield – a place rich in culture and a fascinating heritage – including Roman sites in Castleford, castles dating back to the eleventh and twelfth centuries and The National Coal Mining Museum celebrating and preserving this important industry.

“We would love nothing more than for others to join us in experiencing the rich and diverse cultural offer that I, like so many other residents, rightly feel proud of.”

Simon Wallis, director of The Hepworth Wakefield, said: “The Wakefield district has an incredible depth and breadth of cultural experiences and activities to build upon.

“It’s an inspiring combination of a proud city, towns and villages where urban and rural life combine to create our unique identity and spirit of place.

“It’s the district that formed and influenced Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore as they grew up and went on to become two of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

“We see a new generation of creative young people developing similar ambitions in so many different and unexpected ways in our local schools.

“We have huge potential for positive and exciting change in Wakefield and this bid to be City of Culture will help us realise that by bringing us all together across the district to be very much more than the sum of our considerable parts.”

Lee Brooks, CEO of Production Park, added: “We can’t wait to collaborate with the region’s other institutions to give Wakefield’s cultural output the recognition it truly deserves.

“As a post-industrial region, Wakefield has come a long way from its decline of big industry and the closure of its factories and mines.

“Although its ‘rhubarb triangle’ remains, there’s another triangle now underpinning up the region’s cultural identity; one which is home to nationally significant names, The Hepworth, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Production Park.

“They’re all key institutions in the levelling up agenda – giving the area, its artists, and its people the recognition they deserve.”

More information about the bid will be released in the coming weeks before it is submitted next month. The winning entry will be announced in May 2022.

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