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Sunderland one of five shortlisted for City of Culture 2021

Photo: Sunderland 2021

Sunderland is amongst five cities to be shortlisted to host UK City of Culture 2021.

The announcement comes following a meeting of the independent advisory panel chaired by Phil Redmond.

Of the eleven towns and cities that registered bids for UK City of Culture 2021, five have been shortlisted for the prestigious award.

The five towns and cities are:

  • Sunderland
  • Swansea
  • Coventry
  • Paisley
  • Stoke

In December 2017, either Coventry, Paisley, Stoke, Sunderland or Swansea will be named the third UK City of Culture, following in the footsteps of Derry-Londonderry and Hull.

UK city of culture is a title given to a city in the UK whereby the city creates a national cultural event programme for one year Credit: PA

It is fantastic news that Sunderland has been shortlisted for City of Culture 2021, and is one step closer to having serious investment in our cultural infrastructure and the opportunity to showcase the cultural talents on offer across Wearside.

We have so much to offer as a beacon of culture for not only the North East, but also the wider UK and indeed the world.

This is Sunderland’s opportunity to be put on the map as a top cultural destination, and I – like many others in Sunderland – will continue to back the bid and support the team working to achieve this accolade for our City.”

– Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West

Hull is the current City of Culture and its programme includes 365 days of cultural events. It is estimated that City of Culture has brought a boost of £60 million to the local economy in 2017.

Nine out of 10 residents have attended, or taken part in, an event as part of Hull 2017 and the city has seen over £1 billion of investment since winning the title in 2013.

The winner of UK City of Culture 2021 will also have access to a £3 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Sunderland’s bid is up against competition from four other towns and cities Credit: PA

We have received strong bids from across the UK and now have a fantastic shortlist of five that reflect the diversity and cultural ambition of our towns and cities.

I want to congratulate all eleven bids which offered brilliant examples of how to celebrate their own unique culture and heritage, and showed just how prestigious and coveted the UK City of Culture is.

The strength of the competition showed us how valuable our cultural assets are to our towns, boosting tourism and jobs in local communities. I have seen first hand how Hull has embraced its status as City of Culture 2017, and how beneficial it has been for the area. I am looking forward to seeing what will come in 2021.”

– John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism

The shortlisted areas will now be invited to submit a final bid by the end of September. The panel will assess the final bids from the shortlisted cities before a winner is announced in December.

The quality, commitment and enthusiasm that came across from the eleven bidders made deciding a shortlist to recommend to Ministers as difficult as it was for the two previous UK City of Culture competitions.

The appetite for using culture to bring about regeneration and to strengthen communities is clearly stronger than ever. Overall the panel thought that five cities' bids showed the potential to deliver a UK City of Culture 2021 programme.

I want to thank all eleven bidders for all their work and look forward to final bids from Coventry, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea later this year."

– Phil Redmond, Chair of the UK City of Culture panel

The unsuccessful areas will each receive detailed feedback on their bids. Ministers and officials will also engage with them on how best they could realise their ambitions for widespread recognition for their cultural offer.