Aberdeen has entered into the race to become the UK’s first “City of Culture” in 2013 in an attempt to boost it’s struggling local economy.
The new initiative comes on the back of the success of Liverpool being christened the “Capital of Culture” in 2008. Since winning the title, Liverpool has seen a huge growth in it’s economy as well as a rise in confidence and optimism among local businesses. Aberdeen are hoping winning the title would have a similar positive effect on them. Since the economic downturn took hold, rents have fallen to an almost all-time low for Aberdeen office space and many Scottish SME’s have struggled to survive.
Not everyone is happy with the decision. Many critics believe that this move would be like throwing money away and don’t see how it could benefit their city. The final bill for Liverpool’s festivities came in at Â£94million, with about Â£12million coming in sponsorship from private sector partners.
Applicants have until 11th December to apply for the title. So far, Aberdeen faces stiff competition from 22 cities including Barnsley, Birmingham, Cheshire West and Chester, Durham, Ipswich and the Haven Gateway, Lancaster and Manchester Salford. A shortlist will be drawn up in January 2010, when they will have until May to put forward their final bids.
The winning city will host a year-long programme of cultural events, which could include the Turner Prize, Brit Awards and BBC Sports Personality of the Year. It’s hoped this will drive much needed income back into the chosen city, raise the number of both office and retail space and boost the morale of residents.
Culture minister Margaret Hodge said; â€œThe UK City of Culture competition has caught the imagination of people all over the country. The city or place winning the title for 2013 will enjoy a golden opportunity to have the spotlight of national attention focused on them. They will have the chance to show the rest of the UK what they have to offer.