Search begins to find next UK City of Culture

THE search has begun.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has today launched the competition to find the UK’s next City of Culture.

And Southampton is hoping to be that city.

The competition, set up by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), will use culture as a catalyst for levelling up areas outside London and put culture at the heart of their plans to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

The new winner will take on the baton from Coventry and be at the centre of the country’s cultural spotlight for a year.

Last year, Southampton formally launched its bid to become that host city, and earlier this week the logo was unveiled.

But the city could face strong competition as, for the first time, groups of towns will now be able to join together and apply for the title to be awarded to their local area – widening the scope of which areas of the country could benefit.

Judges say that towns and cities will need to “articulate a strong and unique vision” for their future growth, celebrating local heritage and using culture to bring communities together.

As well as this, they will need to “build a sense of place and inspire local pride”.

Bidders will also be asked to demonstrate how investment in culture and creativity will drive growth, how they will open up access to culture and to develop partnerships and celebrate links with places across the country.

Mr Dowden said: “UK City of Culture is a fantastic showcase of the huge impact culture has in towns and cities across the country. From Derry-Londonderry, to Hull and Coventry, previous winners have shown how the competition can deliver greater cultural participation, drive economic regeneration and boost local pride. I encourage towns and cities across the UK to put forward bids for 2025.”

Southampton City Council leader Dan Fitzhenry said: “We have an incredible city of arts and heritage assets and bidding for UK City of Culture is about enriching lives, growing and developing opportunity and showcasing our great city on the world stage.