County Durham’s City of Culture bid ends in disappointment


County Durham’s bid to become the UK City of Culture 2025 has been unsuccessful, after Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced that Bradford had won the title during a special episode of the BBC’s The One Show this evening (31st May).

Durham will not go away empty handed though, as the county has been awarded a further £125,000 from the Government to support development with key aspects of its bid. This is the first time that the runners-up for the City of Culture competition have been awarded such grants.

The popular choice to win according to betting analysis site Smarkets, Bradford’s bid concentrated on changing perceptions of the city, by “building on our existing cultural assets and heritage”, and by attracting “significant investment, jobs and new opportunities for everyone who lives and works here”. Bradford will take over from Coventry, the 2021 UK City of Culture.

Shanaz Gulzar, chair of Bradford 2025, hailed the bid as the “culmination of a three-year long campaign which has seen thousands of people across the district get behind our bid”.

In a tweet, Bradford 2025 celebrated the news by saying “This is our time to celebrate our extraordinary district – and for our young population to become leaders and change-makers to begin an exciting new chapter in our story. This is Our Time, Our Place”.

Meanwhile on their Instagram page, Durham 2025 congratulated Bradford on its victory, while also thanking “every single person who supported our bid, you’ve made everyone in Durham extremely proud”.

The creativity and collaboration between our amazing cultural organisations and institutions… has highlighted the rich culture the County already has to offer

Mary Foy MP

Mary Kelly Foy, City of Durham MP, echoed this sentiment by saying “It is disappointing that County Durham has not been named UK City of Culture on this occasion. However, this bid has highlighted the extraordinary cultural heritage of our County.

“While City of Culture status would have been a great honour and opportunity – the creativity and collaboration between our amazing cultural organisations and institutions that the bid has fostered has highlighted the rich culture the County already has to offer.

“I hope we can now build on the momentum and positivity created by this campaign to showcase the uniqueness and vibrancy of Durham”.

When the judging panel visited Durham earlier this month, Sir Phil Redmond, Chair of the City of Culture Expert Advisory Panel, suggested that County Durham should continue working on its cultural strategy even if they were not successful; “I hope this whole process will galvanise people to carry things through. Even if they don’t get through to build on it and develop and use those partnerships to develop a cultural strategy for the future.

“It’s worked elsewhere, other places like Sunderland who didn’t get [City of Culture] have set up Culture Sunderland which has done great things. I encourage everybody to use the work that has already been done and move forward with it”.

Image Credit: Durham 2025

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