City to make bid to be UK Capital Of Culture
STOKE-ON-TRENT is to bid to become the UK's cultural capital within the next eight years.
The Government is looking at creating a national award to boost tourism, regional commerce and the arts following Liverpool's success as European City of Culture last year. It wants a different city to receive the title every four years.
The council has already held informal talks with the Government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport about preparing its bid. Now the council's executive and members' board is expected to instruct officers to begin working on detailed plans next week.
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A report said: "Securing City of Culture status for Stoke-on-Trent would provide an opportunity for the city to celebrate its history, reinforce its identity and strengthen community cohesion. It would help showcase the city's cultural facilities and events, as well as its talent, and open these up to a far wider audience."
Councillor Hazel Lyth, portfolio holder for enterprise and culture, said: "We have a huge repertoire of culture and heritage in the city and really must go for this.
"People are always talking about what this city hasn't got, but one of the things it has got is the creative gene, and we should make the most of that."
Liverpool attracted an extra 3.5 million visitors as European City of Culture last year and boosted its economy by around £800 million.
Liverpool's deputy lord mayor Councillor Mike Storey, who was council leader during 2008, said: "We didn't really bid for City of Culture for the culture; we did it to help regenerate the city and change public perceptions, and it worked brilliantly. Liverpool had fallen on hard times and become the butt of national jokes. But winning City of Culture status was like rocket fuel for regeneration and we broke all records for tourism, job creation and economic performance."
News of the planned bid was last night backed by business leaders in North Staffordshire.
John de Kanter, pictured, chief executive of inward investment agency InStaffs, said: "Bidding for City of Culture status would be a very welcome boost for the city and increase the profile of the whole of North Staffordshire.
"By 2017, most of the regeneration projects now in the pipeline should be finished and we would have a lot to show to people and plenty of good reasons to invest in the city and bring new jobs to the area."