Businesses back Stoke-on-Trent’s City of Culture 2021 bid

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Business leaders have met to give their backing to Stoke-on-Trent’s 2021 City of Culture bid.

Around 100 business representatives attended a meeting to learn how they can impact on making Stoke-on-Trent stand out from the other cities also making their own bid.

The city’s bid was celebrated with an event at Hanley’s Regent Theatre after being formally registered on Monday, February 27.

Councillor Abi Brown, Deputy Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “The City of Culture is a serious economic proposition.

“Stoke-on-Trent is the city that brought together science, art and industry, we have creativity and culture in our DNA.

“This is a city which has never made a distinction between art, culture and commerce.

“We have synthesised ideas from around the globe, re-interpreted them, and mass-produced artefacts in their millions to bring culture to the masses around the world.

“It’s this earthy realism, a rootedness in the practical use of culture, the mix of intense local materials and identity with an international outlook, that makes this place the perfect canvas for the UK City of Culture.

“Art isn’t rarefied and exclusive here. It’s for and from the people. This is already a City of Culture; it is rooted in the everyday.

“The City of Culture allows us to shine a spotlight on what is so great about Stoke-on-Trent our culture, heritage, lifestyle and location.”

Winning the event will give the city the opportunity to host a variety of events including the Turner Prize and the Booker Prize.

It could also put a regional, national and international focus on the city.

Since winning the bid, Hull has received an estimated £9 million of positive media coverage and was the only UK city named in the top ten 10 list of tourist destinations.

Shortlisted entrants will be announced in July and they will receive help from specialist mentors to assist them with refining their bids.

Chairman of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), David Frost, said: “We are at the very heart of ensuring that we have a prosperous local economy.

“Hull as UK City of Culture has attracted over 300,000 visitors in just the first few weeks. The projected impact on the local economy is huge – projected now to be over £1billion over the next few years. So there’s a lot at stake here.

“Business needs to get inside the Stoke-on-Trent City of Culture programme, helping to shape the programme, provide the technical expertise, the business acumen and the funding needed to make it a success. The rewards of success will be huge.

“It’s my view that growth will continue, our location at the centre of the country coupled with being the base for many household names has shown clear and evident signs of growth.

“Not only is this city open for business but it wants to drive growth.

“The capital of culture title will, I believe, significantly help promote the progress that this city has and continues to make.”

Paul Williams, who has been seconded from Staffordshire University to the City of Culture bid, said: “Work has already started, for the past 18 months or so we’ve been working with a number of community groups to try and understand what their definition of culture is and what sort of culture they think should be on the programme when we go forward to 2021.

When asked why Stoke should be crowned the winner, he said: “That’s the six-million-dollar question.

“We don’t want to reveal too much about the bid just yet. We know the other cities will all be watching us, as we are watching them.”

The names of the other cities in the running are:

  • Coventry
  • Hereford
  • Paisley
  • Perth
  • Portsmouth
  • Sunderland
  • Swansea
  • Warrington
  • Wells
  • St David’s

Each successful bidder from 2021 onwards will receive £3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The title is decided by the UK government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport and is awarded every four years.

The winner will be announced in December 2017. Find out more about the bid here.

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