Competition intensifies over nominations to become the next city of culture for Bradford and Wakefield

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The two great shapes of Henry Moore photographed at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
The two great shapes of Henry Moore photographed at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Bradford and Wakefield are ready to show their hands as expressions of interest are declared today in this fiercely contested first ‘catwalk’ of the race.

With some 12 to 15 bids expected, today marks a major step in formalizing intentions for 2025 – and hoping to reap the benefits that the competition could bring.

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“The title of City of Culture is not an award for outstanding cultural activities – it is a regeneration project,” Bradford Bid Director Richard Shaw said, today’s submissions to finalize three years of intense preparations.

Bradford Centennial Square

“This is a very important moment, where we start to declare our hand. This would provide resources and leverage to develop a long-term cultural program, across the district and the wider region of West Yorkshire. ”

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Arts and heritage in Bradford should be at the forefront of cultural renaissance …

The UK City of Culture competition, aimed at promoting a creative reputation, allows this year for the first time applications from groups of cities in addition to those with city status.

At least 10 domains have already declared their intention to submit today, for this first leg of the rounds which will culminate with the announcement of a winner in May 2022.

Wakefield revealed last month that he would be entering the contest, with the board hailing an “exciting and ambitious” plan.

Councilor Michael Graham, a cabinet minister responsible for culture, recreation and sport, said the city was “in turmoil” ahead of today’s submissions.

“That’s exactly what the city is,” he said. “People sometimes say that culture is not for everyone – that it is for a few elitists. It is about showing that it is for everyone, that everyone is part of this candidacy.

The city is the only one outside of London to host two Arts Fund of the Year museums at Hepworth and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, while other key attractions include Production Park, the National Coal Mining Museum and its ‘glorious’ cathedral.

Culture is ‘ingrained’ in the area’s offerings, Councilor Graham said, but research suggests that society views places such as Liverpool, York and Manchester as the cultural ‘gems’ of the North.

“We want to be a part of that, to be at the forefront of minds when they think about culture,” he said. “In terms of cultural goods, we are second to none. “

In Bradford, Mr Shaw said the ambitions were in growing economies both socially and culturally, and in challenging “often outdated” perceptions of the city.

He praised Bradford’s “extraordinary” institutions alongside larger gems such as Salts Mill, Haworth and Keighley, and a “progressive and young approach” from many active groups.

“We have a long tradition of doing things completely differently,” he said. “It doesn’t appear that many fields have this progressive and radical approach to the power of arts and culture to transform lives. This neighborhood has a real chance to do something different.

Hull saw visitor numbers increase dramatically as it hosted the title in 2017, with previous estimates suggesting tourism contributed more than £ 300million to the city’s economy.

Today’s deadline is for Expressions of Interest to become the UK’s City of Culture 2025, with known Candidate Cities being Conwy, Medway, Gloucester, Southampton, Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft, the south of Scotland, Wakefield, Bradford, Derby and Armagh.

A long list will be announced in September, with visits to shortlisted areas in the spring and a winner will be announced in May 2022.

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