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European capital of culture 2023: UK cities submit final bids – The Guardian

Cities across the UK have submitted their final bids to be the European capital of culture in 2023, with the government insisting it is “ready and fully committed” to hosting the event despite the fact that Britain will have left the EU.

Cities in both the UK and Hungary are due to be awarded the title in 2023, and Belfast, Dundee, Milton Keynes, Leeds and Nottingham formally submitted their bids on Friday.

The cities’ submissions will be assessed by a panel of cultural experts appointed by the European commission and a shortlist is expected to be announced by the end of the year. Shortlisted cities will then be asked to submit a second bid and the overall winner will be announced in 2018.

The chosen city will join two other UK cities – Glasgow and Liverpool – to become the third British host of the title. Liverpool, which held the title in 2008, estimated it saw a return of £750m to the local economy from £170m of spending.

As the UK is still a member of the European Union, it is currently the country’s legal right to host the event. However, whether or not the event goes ahead after Brexit is dependent on the outcome of negotiations with the EU.

Michel Magnier, director for culture and creativity at the EU’s Director-General for Education and Culture, told the Irish News earlier this month that the 2023 event “could be a problem”.

“We have to prepare for the long period, five to six years, and it’s very difficult to see how it will work given that we have complete legal and political uncertainty over what we should be doing,” he said.

Launching the bidding process, a statement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport warned local authorities that the title would be “subject to the outcome of those exit negotiations which could have a bearing on the UK’s participation”.

“The government will advise bidding cities on this once negotiations have concluded,” they said.

The government has been keen to point out that three non-EU cities have held the title in the past – Reykjavik in 2000, Stavanger in 2008, and Istanbul in 2010 – with the hosts only required to show a “strong European dimension” to their cultural programmes. Aarhus, in Denmark, and Paphos, in Cyprus, are currently the 2017 European capitals of culture.

A DCMS spokesperson said: “Celebrating the cultural heritage and innovation in Britain’s cities is part of our plan for a dynamic, outward-looking and global Britain. We are ready and fully committed for the UK to host the European capital of culture in 2023.”

Who is bidding?

Nottingham

Scott Knowles, chief executive at East Midlands Chamber, boasts that Nottingham’s central location “with good access in all four directions by road, rail and air” makes it an ideal city to host the event. Nottingham’s bid, called ‘Breaking the Frame’, emphasises the city’s rich cultural history, citing figures such as Robin Hood, writers DH Lawrence and Alan Sillitoe, and fashion designer Paul Smith.

Milton Keynes

The city’s origins as a “new town”, built to relieve London congestion in the 1960s, have inspired Milton Keynes’s bid. ‘Different by Design’ claims to have an alternative story to tell about British culture, not one steeped in Victoriana, ancient monuments, high art and tradition. The bid asks people to “look again at a place they may think they know, but don’t”.

Leeds

Leeds city council’s leader, Judith Blake, said the city’s bid was set apart by its ambition to “embrace equality and tackle the disconnection of a two-tier city”. Under the theme ‘Weaving Us Together’, organisers would aspire for 70% of the city’s inhabitants to see at least one event, and to increase arts attendance in its five most disadvantaged areas.

Belfast and Derry

Belfast has applied for the title along with the city of Derry, which was the first UK capital of culture in 2013. The bid – called #WeAre2023 – claims to recognise that “people are not contained by boundaries drawn on a map”. The team behind the bid boast that they have engaged with 301 artists and had 16,000 face-to-face conversations with members of the public.

Dundee

Council leader John Alexander said Dundee’s bid – which includes 110 new cultural projects across the city – had been inspired by Glasgow’s resurgence after it hosted the event in 1990. The bid aims to celebrate what makes the city “truly European”. “We want a young Lithuanian to point to us on a map and say ‘that’s where my friend lives’”, its publicity material reads.

European capital of culture 2023: UK cities submit final bids – The Guardian

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