Could Teesside become a UK City of Culture?
Our region has declared its intent to bid to become the UK City of Culture in 2025 to create a “long term legacy”. The official announcement will be made at a Tees Valley Culture summit held today. Professor Graham Henderson will make the announcement at The Forge, Teesside University’s business centre in Darlington. The former vice-chancellor of the university chaired a committee which included representatives from Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU), Teesside University, the five local authorities, Arts Council England and other cultural groups.
It has spent the last year exploring how to enhance Teesside’s cultural offer and ensure it better supports the area’s ambitious economic plans. That would be by supporting not only growth in the tourism and visitor economy, but in the creative industries. The group also looked at how culture can be used to address issues around employment, education, health and wellbeing and social inclusion. As part of this work, the group has proposed that TVU and its partners should declare an intent to bid for UK City of Culture 2025.
Professor Henderson said: “2025 is already set to be a huge year as the region will be marking the bicentenary of the birth of passenger rail travel. “It will also be the 150th anniversary of the creation of Dorman Long, the world-renowned Middlesbrough based steel maker who built many famous bridges including Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Tyne Bridge. In concluding our work, the group believes that over the next 10 years the Tees Valley can achieve a step change by working towards city-scale cultural programmes and the run-up to 2025 will be a catalyst to drive greater collaboration and exciting new developments.”
Margi Stewart-Piercy, cultural partnership and strategy coordinator who works across the five boroughs, picked out examples such as Hartlepool’s Historic Quay, mima in Middlesbrough, Redcar’s vertical pier and funicular railway to show there is much to see and do in the region. She also cited events including Stockton International Riverside Festival and Darlington’s Festival of Thrift, the “nationally-distinctive theatre” including Arc at Stockton and the emergence of the national centre of excellence for children’s theatre with Theatre Hullabaloo in Darlington.
Paul Booth, the chairman of TVU, said the bid will be developed in consultation with local communities and organisations. “A successful UK City of Culture bid would create a long term legacy which could generate massive social and economic benefits for many years to come,” he added. “We urge everyone to get involved in this marvellous opportunity to tell the world all about our contemporary strengths as well as our historic achievements.”
The final bidding process is not expected to take place until 2020. Ross Smith, Director of Policy, NECC said: “We fully support the Tees Valley’s bid to be named UK City of Culture 2015. “Teesside is a vibrant, ambitious area with a rich history and dynamic future. It is home to innovative businesses brimming with talent and winning this bid would be a huge opportunity to show everyone what Teesside is all about.”