“Fantastic news” as Wrexham makes longlist to host UK City of Culture 2025
Wrexham is amongst eight areas to have been longlisted for the UK City of Culture 2025.
The county borough, along with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Bradford, Cornwall, County Durham, Derby, Southampton and Stirling, was confirmed to still be in the running today by UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.
Every four years, a town or city is given the title of UK City of Culture – helping to raise its profile, boost its local economy and highlight everything that’s good about the location.
The current title-holder is Coventry.
20 bids for the 2025 title were submitted in total, with Conwy, The City of Bangor and Northwest Wales, The City of Newport and Powys also putting themselves forward for UK City of Culture 2025.
However Wrexham is the only Welsh town to have made the longlist after a bid for the title was unveiled by the local authority, along with plans to apply for city status for a third time, in July.
UK Government say that “winning the prestigious title has enormous benefits with previous hosts attracting millions of pounds in additional investment, creating jobs and attracting thousands of visitors to their local area.”
The eight areas on the longlist will now receive £40,000 to develop a full application and work with a panel of experts and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to finalise their bids before the shortlist is announced early next year.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Councillor Mark Pritchard, Leader of Wrexham Council, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Wrexham has been included in the longlist – it’s fantastic news and a real achievement given how strong the competition is.
Wrexham Council said that getting to this stage has been a “team effort” and “a special mention should be given to Ty Pawb, which has played a key role in making culture accessible and attractive to everyone in Wrexham”.
“There’s still a long way to go, but Wrexham is a wonderful place full of culture, industry and creativity, and whatever happens, we can look forward to the future with confidence and optimism.”
The competition, delivered by DCMS in collaboration with the Offices for Wales and Scotland and the Northern Ireland Executive, uses culture as a tool for levelling up towns and cities across the country.
The longlist was recommended by an independent advisory panel which brings together a wide range of expertise from across the UK.
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. For the first time, this year each longlisted place will receive £40,000 to support the development of their promising proposals.
The winner will be announced in spring 2022 and will follow Coventry’s tenure as UK City of Culture 2021 to take the lead on culture in the UK in 2025.
UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Winning the UK City of Culture competition has a hugely positive impact on an area, driving investment, creating jobs, and highlighting that culture is for everyone, regardless of their background.
“This year’s focus is on levelling up access to culture across the country and making sure there is a legacy that continues for generations to come. I look forward to seeing what this brilliant longlist has in store as they continue in the competition.”
Sir Phil Redmond, Chair of the City of Culture Expert Advisory Panel, said: “The Expressions of Interest stage was introduced as an opportunity to encourage many more places to experience the benefit of coming together to define and share a cultural vision for their areas, and what the longlist demonstrates is the range and depth of cultural ambition across the whole of the UK.
“Also for the first time, each longlisted city will receive financial support to help them develop their vision.
“Each is different. Each has its own story to tell. All share a common aim: to demonstrate how culture can act as the creative catalyst for change. I am really looking forward to seeing how each story develops.”
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart added: “In a fantastic field of UK City of Culture bids, Wrexham has done extremely well to fly the flag for Wales by reaching the longlist.
“I wish them every success as they seek to become the first Welsh holder of the UK City of Culture title with all the opportunities it will bring to an area of huge cultural pedigree which contains the World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, one of the world’s oldest football clubs in Wrexham FC and the Stiwt Theatre.”
Wales’ Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden said: “I’m delighted Wrexham County Borough has reached the UK City of Culture 2025 longlist.
“We have a unique and wonderful culture here in Wales, which we’re all incredibly proud of. I want the world to know how wonderful it is too!
“Being named UK City of Culture 2025 would be truly transformational for Wrexham, and would be a real boost as we look forward to a brighter, more prosperous future. Congratulations to all at Team Wrexham, and the best of luck for the next stages of the competition!
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