The Borderlands is one of 20 places from across the country who are bidding to become the UK City of Culture 2025.
The area, which comprises of the Scottish Borders, Northumberland, Cumbria, Carlisle and Dumfries and Galloway, must prove that it can put culture at the heart of plans to recover from the impact of the covid-19 pandemic.
The benefits to the winner of the title are huge, attracting millions of visitors and investment and bringing communities together to showcase the place where they live to the country and the world.
Previous holders of the title, including Hull and Derry-Londonderry, saw huge impacts from winning, as well as Coventry who currently hold it. The city has already attracted over £100 million so far in capital investment to support cultural projects, such as Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry Cathedral and Belgrade Theatre.
The competition, delivered by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), uses culture as a catalyst for levelling up areas outside London and putting new parts of the UK on the cultural map internationally.
For the first time, regions and groups of towns have been encouraged to apply, allowing the Borderlands and other areas like Cornwall to apply.
The current twenty bidders will be reduced to an initial long list of bidders in the coming weeks and then cut down further to a final shortlist in early 2022. The winner will be announced in May 2022.
DCMS are awarding grants of £40,000 to successful longlisted places for the first time to support their long applications.
Cllr Mark Rowley, Executive Member for Economic Regeneration and Finance, said:
“Like the Borderlands themselves, our bid is big, bold and ambitious.
“Borderlands is a unique City of Culture offer that would draw international attention, delivering significant and lasting social, economic and cultural benefits across a significant area.
“From coast to coast across the Borderlands we’ve millennia of cultural and creative heritage to celebrate with deep pools of contemporary creative talent working in an awesome landscape, rich in natural capital and inspiration.
“200 years ago Wordsworth and Walter Scott were introducing our region to the world; this is the right time and right place to reacquaint Britain and the world with how much the Borderlands has to offer.
“Delivering the astonishing Great Tapestry of Scotland project this week is a timely demonstration of Scottish Borders Council’s appetite to deliver social and economic change through regeneration, culture and heritage is immense.”
John Lamont MP said:
“The City of Culture is a very prestigious prize and would be a real boon for the Borderlands if we were able to win.
“There is tough competition from all four corners of the United Kingdom but I believe the Borderlands has a unique culture that would flourish under the spotlight of holding the title.
“From our Common Ridings here in the Borders to the beauty of Cumbria there is a real smorgasbord on offer.
“I’m working with my colleague David Mundell MP, Scottish Borders Council and officials at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure that the Borderlands submits the strongest possible bid.”
Sir Phil Redmond, Chair of the City of Culture Expert Advisory Panel, said:
“From Derry-Londonderry to Hull and Coventry it has been a difficult and rewarding challenge to select the next UK City of Culture, and the list of potential candidates for 2025 indicates that life in the immediate future is going to be even more challenging!
“The three previous title holders have demonstrated the transformative and catalytic effect culture can bring about, even within places that have been ultimately unsuccessful but have gone on to develop collaborative and sustainable partnerships.
“The list for 2025 also demonstrates the breadth of ambition, aspiration and innovation that exists from coast to coast and nation to nation across the UK and I am looking forward to that challenge of immersing myself once again in the UK’s rich seam of creativity.”