With the bid deadline looming, could Stoke claim the crown?
Stoke on Trent is one of the eleven cities bidding to become the UK City of Culture in 2021. Like many of the other cities bidding, Stoke has been hard hit by the decline of long-established industries. However, Stoke is a city that has been moulded by 300 years of culture, innovation and creativity. The growth and prosperity enjoyed by the city in recent centuries were completely based on a foundation of excellence in design, and the quality and authenticity of its ceramics heritage.
The bid team, led by the City Council, the two local universities and local arts groups, are hoping to widen the local definition of culture beyond ceramics. They are trying to use the bid to transform perceptions of the city across the UK and enhance the image of the city among its residents too.
Leaders in the political, cultural, business and educational fields are coming to recognise the power of bidding to be the City of Culture has on a city’s reputation. In addition, engaging in cultural activities is believed to be good for health and wellbeing. Like the other cities bidding to become City of Culture 2021, the bid team hope to attract investment, boost development and engage visitors whilst raising the profile of the arts and culture.
The bid team are clear that a successful bid would bring positives to every business in the city, not just hotels and restaurants. It is hoped that by winning the bid, everyone from construction companies to professional service businesses will benefit. In addition, a winning bid would bring once-in-a-generation opportunities creating new jobs, attracting millions of visitors, enormous benefits for communities and improved educational opportunities for children, and the generations to come.
Even should the bid be unsuccessful, there are benefits arising from the bidding process alone. The bid is shining a light on Stoke on Trent’s artistic, creative, innovative and cultural history, not only to its residents but the wider UK. The people of Stoke are proud of their bid, and the proposal is rapidly gaining momentum. Regardless of whether they win the coveted title, the council is investing more than £50 million into heritage, the public realm and other cultural and infrastructure projects. This will stand the city in good stead for the future, and the community engagement and civic pride which are beginning to emerge will have long-term positive benefits not only for the city but the wider area as a whole.