The government today released the list of the cities and towns that will compete to become UK City of Culture 2021. 

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has confirmed that Sunderland, Cardiff, Wells, Coventry, Hereford, Paisley, St Davids, Portsmouth, Stoke, Swansea, Perth and Warrington will all be vying for the coveted title.

The UK City of Culture project aims to raise the profile of arts and culture in the successful cities and increase tourist numbers. The winning cities also enjoy massive economic benefits. 

Hull, the UK City of Culture 2017, will this year see its economy boosted by £60 million. This is in addition to the staggering £1 billion worth of investment the city has seen since clinching the title back in 2013. 

The director of Sunderland’s City of Culture bid, Rebecca Ball, said, “Today is an important day in the process and though it’s good to know who we’re up against, we also know that our focus must be on our own bid and convincing the judges that Sunderland would be a worthy winner of the title.” 

“We’ve already started writing the bid, which will be ambitious and inspirational, but achievable and deliverable.” 

“We’re being honest in talking about the challenges the city faces and how a successful bid could help solve some of those challenges.”

“It’s not about putting on a programme of events for an artistic elite; it’s about how we could create jobs, boost the economy, reduce loneliness and isolation and give young people an extra reason to stay in the city.”

“It’s also about repositioning Sunderland as an ambitious, cultural city with a proud past and an exciting future.”

The leader of Sunderland City Council, Paul Watson, said, “I believe Sunderland is in the middle of a cultural renaissance.”

“We nurture creative people and industries with venues that can spur on the music and art scene.”

“Achieving City of Culture status would help us send a message to the world that we are a city that is changing, rebuilding and that has something exciting to offer.”

Government Confirm Sunderland Will Compete for UK City of Culture 2021
Sunderland could be in the middle of a cultural renaissance

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Sunderland West and Washington, said, “I think it’s very important for Sunderland to win. Sunderland’s a fantastic place to live, work, visit, and we want it to be even better.”

“It’s already great, but winning the City of Culture will just really put Sunderland on the map.”

“There are so many great things that Sunderland already offers; we’re already on the map for the music scene, for instance. We’ve got great heritage as well and we just need to spread the word and that’s what winning something like City of Culture does.”

The bids are due to be submitted to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport by 28th April. An independent panel will then judge the bids and draw up a shortlist of four cities, which will be published in the summer. There will then be a second round of bids, which should be submitted by 29th September. The winning city will be announced in December in Hull.

Sunderland’s bid is being put together by a team from the University of Sunderland, Sunderland Arts and Music Trust, and Sunderland City Council.  

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