This year it’s Coventry, and in 2025 …. it could be Gloucester.
Gloucestershire is bidding for City of Culture with Gloucester leading the bid for the 2025 title.
It follows an invitation from government and Arts Council England to towns and cities from across the UK to submit expressions of interest in becoming the 2025 cultural capital.
If successful, the Gloucester for Gloucestershire bid could see a year-long series of events, festivals, workshops and artist collaborations taking place in venues right across the county.
It will be coordinated by Gloucester Culture Trust and will reflect Gloucestershire’s strong cultural calendar and wealth of creativity.
Coventry’s City of Culture year has attracted around £20 million in support and grants, with millions more in private investment pouring into the city, including in construction of new projects and regeneration across the city.
Gloucestershire’s bid will be led by Gloucester and reflects the journey the city has been on in recent years which has seen a transformation through heritage-led regeneration and investment in cultural activity.
The city now boasts a lively festival and events programme and growing cultural scene which has been supported by a 10-year Cultural Strategy which included the ambition to bid for City of Culture.
It saw the setting up of Gloucester Culture Trust, an independent charity to ensure culture stays at the heart of the city and to build the creative skills of young people.
It’s intended that the bid will shine the national spotlight on the county’s huge number of artists and creatives and the abundance of festivals, activities and events taking place around Gloucestershire bringing about exciting creative collaborations across the districts. It is also an opportunity for new cross-county collaborations and partnerships to emerge.
Councillor Steve Morgan, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure at Gloucester City Council, said: “We believe our city and the wider county is in a strong position to make a winning bid for City of Culture. To be crowned the UK’s next city of Culture would be a great accolade and recognise some of the extraordinary creativity we have here in Gloucester and in the county. We’re delighted with the support by our county council colleagues and from other partners from across sectors and geography and look forward to working with them and demonstrating that we are serious contenders. We’ll be working with communities, businesses and artists from Gloucester and beyond to share some of the great culture being produced locally, showcase our talent and demonstrate the way we do it differently in this part of the country.”
Donna Renney, Vice-Chair of Gloucester Culture Trust, said: “The pace of change in Gloucester has been impressive with the introduction of some great festivals and events including the Rooftop Festival, held on the top of a multi-storey carpark, the History Festival and more recently “Of Earth and Sky” where huge word installations linked to the poetry of local people reached into every community in the city, as well as some brilliant work with CreateGlos in raising people’s aspirations.
“Gloucester now looks forward to working with partners from across the county and beyond and particularly welcome is the fact that City of Culture guidelines now include science, as we have a world-leading Science Festival on our doorstep.”
Councillor Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Gloucester is a dynamic and vibrant city that is undergoing massive regeneration and building an impressive reputation for culture. It’s the perfect choice to lead a bid for Gloucestershire and I believe has a real chance of becoming the 2025 City of Culture. It would attract huge investment which would benefit the whole of Gloucestershire and not only launch the city but the county as well, onto the national and international stage.”
David Owen at GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Gloucester should absolutely go for it! A City of Culture bid would boost the whole economy of the region, provide a massive boost to morale and help others see that Gloucester is a great small city in a beautiful county. The reach of City of Culture will have a positive impact from the Forest of Dean through the Severn Valley and into the Cotswold Hills. It gives the whole of Gloucestershire a unique opportunity to change the perception of the county for the better and to increase inclusion, equality, and diversity which can only be a good thing for business and for residents.”