Swansea named on City of Culture 2021 shortlist

Swansea has made the final shortlist in the race to be named UK City of Culture 2021.

Sunderland, Coventry, Paisley and Stoke-on-Trent are the fellow finalists that stand in the way of Swansea succeeding Hull to take the coveted title.

Six other candidates which had submitted nominations failed to make the final list.

The winner of the award, which comes with a £3m Heritage Lottery Fund grant, will be chosen in December.

Due to the preparation required for the tenure, UK City of Culture status is only awarded every four years.

Swansea council leader Rob Stewart said: “We are very excited to have passed this key milestone in achieving the status of UK City of Culture 2021 and I want to thank everyone in the Swansea community who has already taken this important campaign to their heart.

“This stage in the competition is tough but the benefits of winning belong to us all so I would urge everyone to get behind Swansea’s campaign and show the assessors that we are ready to deliver this.

“We want every single person in Swansea to be a part of this process and to gain from it. This is our city, we are ‘Team Swansea’, so please look out for our Swansea 2021 campaign over the coming weeks and months and do all you can to get behind it.

“You only have to look at what the UK City of Culture 2017 has done for Hull to see how valuable this initiative is.

“The city, its people and its cultural offering have been put on the map, they have created some head-turning cultural events and projects, and it is estimated that the value of investment in their programmes and in their city centre comes in at more than £100m in funding from bodies like the Arts Council and the National Lottery and from private businesses based in and investing in the city.”

While the title comes with a grant of £3m it is estimated to be worth much more to the winning city in terms of tourism and economic impact for businesses.

Swansea lost out to eventual winners Hull in 2013.

In Hull more than 1.4m visits have been recorded so far this year.

If Swansea were to win the deal it would mean millions of pounds pouring into the city with new infrastructure works.

More than £30m is being spent on the year’s events in Hull and £25m has been invested in revamping the city centre and refurbishing its Ferens Art Gallery and the city’s main theatre.

A spokesman for the Arts Council of Wales said: “Swansea has a rich and diverse cultural heritage and a dynamic contemporary arts scene.

“City of Culture 2021 will provide a chance to share what’s happening in the city with the rest of the world.”

Now it has made the shortlist Swansea’s UK City of Culture 2021 team will work towards their final bid.

After making the announcement on Friday, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, John Glenn, said: “We have received strong bids from across the UK and now have a fantastic shortlist of five that reflect the diversity and cultural ambition of our towns and cities.

“I want to congratulate all 11 bids which offered brilliant examples of how to celebrate their own unique culture and heritage and showed just how prestigious and coveted the UK City of Culture is.

“The strength of the competition showed us how valuable our cultural assets are to our towns, boosting tourism and jobs in local communities.

“I have seen first-hand how Hull has embraced its status as City of Culture 2017 and how beneficial it has been for the area. I am looking forward to seeing what will come in 2021.”

Phil Redmond, chair of the UK City of Culture panel, added: “The quality, commitment and enthusiasm that came across from the 11 bidders made deciding a shortlist to recommend to ministers as difficult as it was for the two previous UK City of Culture competitions.

“The appetite for using culture to bring about regeneration and to strengthen communities is clearly stronger than ever.”

WalesOnline