A nationwide competition to find the next UK City of Culture was launched in January by Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock.
The UK City of Culture title is designed to use culture as a catalyst for economic and social regeneration and raise the profile of arts and creativity locally and across the country.
It also helps cities develop a broader high quality arts and culture sector, as well as attract increased business investment and boost tourism.
The launch of the 2021 competition came in the same month that Hull kicked off its year as the second UK City of Culture, after Derry/Londonderry in 2013.
Included amongst those in the race for the 2021 title is Stoke-on-Trent – affectionately known worldwide as The Potteries.
A city made up of six towns, and built on a history of industrial greatness, Stoke-on-Trent is currently enjoying a huge resurgence of local pride and passion in all that it is built upon, and is aiming to capitalize upon the opportunities and profile that the UK City of Culture 2021 title would bring with it.
As the “World Capital of Ceramics”, Stoke-on-Trent’s cultural and artistic heritage not only runs deep, but also reaches back over the centuries.
The city has been encouraged by the response so far to its call to “Get Behind The 2021 Bid”, and has already been able to create a Cultural Forum which is now driving the campaign.
Cultural Forum members, individuals, businesses and organisations, as well as the local media, are all now backing the bid by using the hashtag #Sot2021 on social media.
All cities interested in submitting bids to be UK City of Culture 2021 have been invited to register with DCMS by the end of February. Bids for the 2021 competition must be submitted by 28 April 2017 after which they will be assessed by an Independent Advisory Panel. A shortlist will then be announced in the summer, before the winning city is announced in Hull in December.
Councillor Abi Brown, deputy leader and lead member for the City of Culture bid, says, “Stoke-on-Trent is a wonderfully innovative city, we’re a birthplace of the industrial revolution, our exquisitely skilled ceramists continue to set the standard for pottery manufacture the world over, and our advanced ceramics knowledge is using cutting edge design to help global hi-tech industries.
“We have hundreds of small entrepreneurial and creative businesses who are using their innovation to prosper. Our museum collections are designated nationally for their significance and we are investing millions of pounds in protecting our heritage buildings and historic parks.
“We know that there will be very stiff competition from across the UK, but we’re determined to do all we can to win the bid for the people of Stoke-on-Trent and shine a spotlight on our amazing city. We urge everyone to get involved and shout loud and proud about why we deserve to win.”
Further details about the Stoke-on-Trent City of Culture 2021 bid can be found at www.sot2021.com.