Two of Scotland’s cities are currently in the running for City of Culture bids, which have the potential to bring significant economic, cultural and social benefits.
Paisley has been shortlisted for UK City of Culture for 2021 and is in the running alongside Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea. The winner is set to be decided in December 2017, and will receive a £3m Heritage Lottery Fund grant.
Secondly, Dundee and four other candidate cities – Leeds, Nottingham, Milton Keynes, and Belfast and Derry – have been shortlisted for the coveted European Capital of Culture 2023 award. Dundee will soon be presenting the first phase of their bid, which will be marked against the following categories:
Winning these cultural titles is about much more than just the status. They have delivered significant economic and wider benefits to cities throughout the UK and Europe. A prime example is Hull, the current 2017 UK City of Culture, who embraced the award by opening over 450 events, exhibitions and activities in the city within the first few months of winning the title, attracting over 1.4 million visits. These included Hull’s Weeping Window poppies to mark the WWI centenary, a Made in Hull giant video projection in Queen Victoria Square, a firework display at the waterfront on New Year’s Day, and the Blade artwork installation in the city centre. Research by Hull University suggested that 90% of Hull residents experienced a City of Culture event in the first three months of 2017, and the local economy had been boosted by around £60m.
Should Paisley or Dundee be successful with their bids, there is a real opportunity to foster urban regeneration and help to change the images of two Scottish cities that, since the onset of deindustrialisation, have suffered from large pockets of deprivation.
The proposed Dundee bid consists of around 110 projects across the city, and it is estimated that gaining the European Capital of Culture status could be worth £128m and create 1,600 new job opportunities.
The Paisley bid is part of wider £46m plans to develop the city, which includes a £22m modernisation of Paisley’s 19th Century Town Hall, a £10m improvement to transport links and public spaces, and £8m to redevelop and upgrade local sports facilities. Furthermore, Paisley Museum is set to have a £42m revamp, although this will not be completed until after 2021. Organisers of Paisley’s bid estimate that winning the Culture status could create 4,700 jobs and boost the local economy by £172m over the next decade. Impacts on this scale would no doubt leave a lasting legacy for Renfrewshire, one which would change the cultural make-up of the region.
All eyes on Paisley in December!