Lancashire County Council has reaffirmed it’s support to a bid for the whole county to be named the UK City of Culture in 2025.
At a meeting of the council’s cabinet today, members agreed to make a £620,000 contribution towards the bid, it’s support team and programme development costs.
Previously the competition has only been contested by individual cities, but the Department of Culture Media and Sport has since indicated that a county-wide bid for Lancashire would be welcomed.
It would bring together all the towns and cities across the county, including Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool, to form one virtual city.
Coun Michael Green, cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “At a time of unprecedented change, progressing and winning this bid could form a key part of Lancashire’s bounce-back from the Covid-19 crisis.
“My Cabinet colleagues and I are supporting this bid, which aims to produce an ambitious and inclusive cultural programme to integrate the urban areas, the coast and the countryside as a virtual city of 1.5 million inhabitants. This would connect the identities of Lancashire to reshape a better, creative and more sustainable way of living.
“It would help to drive cultural, social and digital skills development programmes, attract additional investment and visitors to our county, and raise the profile of Lancashire at a national and international level.”
The UK City of Culture title was created following the success of Glasgow and Liverpool as European Capitals of Culture in 1990 and 2008 respectively.
The act of bidding alone has acted as a powerful catalyst in galvanising cities to think more strategically about their cultural offer, identity and heritage within a national context.
Previous holders of the UK City of Culture have all benefitted from increased investment, enhanced infrastructure, job creation and more visitors compared to previous years.
In 2017, Hull attracted 6million visitors, generated 800 new jobs and boosted the local economy by £60million. Tourism in Hull for that year also exceeded £300m.
The increased investment over subsequent years that bidding cities gain from bodies including the Department for Culture Media and Sport , Arts Council, National Heritage Lottery Fund, BBC, plus attention from national press and media, is regularly quoted as one of the main benefits of bidding for UK City of Culture status and other cultural titles.
At present, three other cities have indicated their intention to bid in 2025, they are Bradford, Medway and Southampton.
Lancashire 2025 expects to present the initial application to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in April 2021.
To date, the bid development has been funded by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lancashire County Council, Creative Lancashire, Marketing Lancashire and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). It is also endorsed by all of Lancashire’s 15 local authorities.