Optimistic message for Derby despite the blow to the City of Culture


Derby has not been selected as one of the final four towns to compete for the title of UK City of Culture for 2025. But the team behind Derby’s bid say they are undeterred and aim to become UK City of Culture 2029.

Bradford, County Durham, Southampton and the County District of Wrexham advance to the final instead. Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “I congratulate Derby on getting this far in the process and hope that being part of the 2025 longlist will leave a rich cultural legacy to the local community. “

Read more stories about things to do in Derby

The city submitted an expression of interest to take the coveted title, which can fetch millions of pounds in investment, last autumn. This led to being selected for a long list of eight finalists from the initial 20 applicants. Derby’s bid to be in the final four was submitted in early February after bid director Adam Buss brought together dozens of interested businesses and organizations to support the ambitious project.

According to Mr Buss, what started as an expression of interest gathered in a few weeks quickly gained momentum, bringing together the arts and business sector, local authorities, environmental organizations, politicians and even the city. Derby’s twin, Toyota in Japan, to back the takeover bid.

From being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and the home of Rolls-Royce, Alstom and Toyota, to the delivery of the new 3,500 capacity Becketwell site, Derby’s bid has been seen as a springboard for regeneration culture of the city.

Mr Buss, acting director of the Derby City of Culture bid, said using culture as a starting point to improve citizens’ well-being, opportunity and social mobility was also vital to the bid. , and that this ambition “should continue”. He added, “This process was never just about winning a contest. It was about recognizing the role of culture in making our city a vibrant place to live and work.

“Congratulations to those cities that are moving forward, and to those like us that didn’t make the final four. Everyone worked so hard and the diverse group of locations represented is a testament to the competition and its potential. to transform not just these places, but the whole of Britain.

“For Derby, now is the time to reflect on how far we have come in such a short time, having won support from sectors across the city. Industry, arts, education, sport, politics and the environment – the entire Derby team – will continue to be behind us as we move forward.

“There is now a better understanding of how important culture is to the city, not only in terms of the regeneration of buildings and public space, but also for the well-being and prospects of our citizens, and this work will continue. Being UK City of Culture 2025 would have opened up opportunities for this to happen more quickly, but our ambition remains as we aim to achieve status for 2029.”

Ambassadors for arts, industry, sport and education, based in the city and the region, had pledged their support for the city. These include Derby-born and critically acclaimed actor Jack O’Connell, award-winning actress Molly Windsor, musician, writer, actor and director Dr John Tams, Baby J of Baby People, Nisha Nath, President of Surtal Arts and Tracey Harrison of the Safe and Sound Charity.

Councilor Chris Poulter, leader of Derby City Council, said: “There is no reason for us to be disappointed today. A tremendous amount of hard work has gone into Derby’s bid and it was a great example of the city working together in partnership, we built a foundation for the future and I am very proud of Derby for having come this far in such a short time.

“Putting culture at the heart of our Derby regeneration plans was a priority even before we submitted our expression of interest. It is about improving our town, making it a vibrant place to live and work and to set the stage for culture to shine. This will remain our vision as we strive to become UK City of Culture 2029 and beyond.”



Mr Buss speaking at one of the many meetings he took part in during the bid development process

Other towns that failed to qualify for the last four were Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon; Cornwall; and Stirling. The winner will be announced in May. Each town on the long list received £40,000 to develop its bid.

Derby came up with the idea of ​​developing a Festival of Movement and also a mystery project to create a “machine” in the city center involving thousands of people, which becomes a performance piece in itself, reconnecting with industrial heritage, the climate change, co-production and a creative future. It is possible that these or other auction ideas could still take place.

Unsuccessful areas will each receive detailed feedback on their bids. Ministers and officials will also discuss with them how best to maintain momentum and achieve their ambitions in the future.

The four locations selected were approved by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries based on independent advice given to the Government by a panel of experts led by writer Sir Phil Redmond. All applicants were asked to explain how they would use culture to develop and strengthen their region, as well as how they would use culture to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Benefits of winning the prestigious title include attracting millions of pounds of additional investment to help spur regeneration, a year in the cultural spotlight with hundreds of events encouraging sustainable participation in the arts and the growth of local tourism .


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