When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Southampton aims to become City of Culture in joint bid with Portsmouth
7:30pm Sunday 10th March 2013 in News
THE crowd roars with delight as gymnasts swing from a trapeze |in Southampton’s East Park.
Elegantly costumed dancers and street performers entertain the masses in Guildhall Square, while musicians of international repute wow the crowds in the Guildhall.
Elsewhere, the entries for the world-renowned Turner Prize art competition hang in the City Art Gallery, while celebrated actors tread the boards in a performance of a classic Shakespeare play at the Mayflower theatre. That is the dream of Southampton in 2017.
But if Southampton is to realise that dream and become joint UK City of Culture in 2017, it must first: l Fight off the ten other cities and regions bidding for the coveted status; l Impress the panel of experts who will decide its fate; l And rely on its biggest rival – Portsmouth.
It was revealed this week that Southampton and Portsmouth had joined forces for the bid which, if successful, will see a huge boost to the local economy and jobs – not to mention the cultural prestige, that succeeding Londonderry as City of Culture will bring.
Succeeding Londonerry as City of Culture could also see the cities benefit from the financial windfall millions of extra visitors would bring.
And although Southampton City Council bosses say it is too early to predict just how many visitors or how much money the status would bring Southampton, what is clear is that it would represent a huge financial boost to the region.
Despite the economic boost, no direct Government funding is likely for the successful city.
City council chiefs say the success of Londonderry, the UK’s first City of Culture this year, will give some indication of expected income and visitor numbers.
City leisure chief Warwick Payne said: “Among the top events held in Southampton last year, the Boat Show had 120,000 visitors, the Olympic Torch event 80,000 and the Cunard Three Queens event 27,000.
“That shows the number of people that Southampton can already attract, and we think being City of Culture would really add to that.
“There is no precedent for exactly what being a City of Culture can bring yet, but we do know that if our bid was successful it would bring in a lot of money.”
It is hoped that will be added to the City Deal bid put forward to the Government by the two city councils earlier this year.
That will see the cities rake in £1.5 billion of investment and jobs, and success in the City of Culture application could add millions more to the pot for improvements in Southampton.
After decades of rivalry between the two ports, the two bids have also meant greater cooperation than ever before, which Southampton City Council leader Richard Williams believes is necessary to provide long-term economic growth in the region.
Councillor Williams said: “It used to be fortress Southampton and fortress Portsmouth – there has been generations of rivalry between the two cities.
“And while I certainly don’t want any of the rivalry on the football pitch to go away, it is time to collaborate for the benefit of both cities.
“The previous joint bid broke the ice a bit, and now it’s a case of asking ‘why wouldn't we team up with Portsmouth?’, as opposed to ‘why would we?’”
The next step in the two cities’ bid for success it to put together a formal bid outlining their vision, strengths and the potential impact City of Culture status could have, which must be given to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport at the end of April.
A panel of ten experts, including Grange Hill creator Phil Redmond, broadcaster Floella Benjamin OBE and the director of the London Cultural Olympiad 2012 Ruth McKenzie OBE, will then consider all 12 applications. A shortlist will be drawn up in June. The final bids must be handed in by September 30, and they will again be assessed by the panel of experts.
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Maria Miller MP, will make the final decision after the assessments, and a winner will be announced in November.