Lancashire City of Culture 2025 set to evolve

Lancashire’s bid to become UK City of Culture in 2025 is looking to “evolve in purpose and direction” after it was announced the county had not made it through to the final stage of the process.

The Lancashire 2025 bid team has been driven by a strategic partnership of local councils, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and has been working for almost three years to put the county and its culture firmly on the map.

Tony Attard, who chairs L2025 and Marketing Lancashire, said: “We are naturally disappointed at not making it to the final stage but to have got the bid this far is testament to the hard work and vision of all those involved.

“The process of bidding has already left a legacy, bringing regional and national media attention to the county, and we intend to build on that profile. We also believe that Lancashire’s bid was the catalyst for DCMS to broaden the guidelines for the UK City of Culture competition, encouraging counties and groups of towns to bid.

“We are so grateful to all the stakeholders that have supported us on this journey. The connections made will not go to waste and the enthusiasm harnessed will bring other opportunities moving forward.

“Lancashire is a richly diverse community and deserves recognition to promote its amazing array of arts and culture. We have new partnerships in place to increase collaboration and drive greater engagement, and we have an online community platform ready to launch to help take the conversation forwards. This is the beginning, not the end. We have begun a significant journey and now we need to see where that takes us.”

Earlier this year it looked like Lancashire would pull out of the race after the county council said it could no longer underwrite its bid. However an official expression of interest was made in July this year.

The bid has been driven by a strategic partnership between Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Preston, the LEP and UCLan.

The Lancashire team has been developing a “virtual city” vision, with businesses and communities across the county urged to get involved. The aim has been to produce an “ambitious, inclusive cultural programme”.

The UK City of Culture 2025 bid is being delivered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It says the competition will use culture as a “catalyst for levelling up areas outside London and put culture at the heart of their plans to recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

Coventry, the current UK City of Culture 2021, is expecting millions of additional visitors, the creation of 900 jobs and has secured more than £110m in additional investment over the 2018-22 period.

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