SOUTHAMPTON’S City of Culture bid will put it “on the UK map” and will “show the world who we are”.

Civic chiefs and business leaders spoke passionately about promoting the city during a special virtual commercial launch of the bid hosted at the Mayflower Theatre this morning.

Businesses were called upon to come together and “make Southampton City of Culture 2025 a reality”.

“The outcome will be a thriving city economy; give people who live and work here a spring in their step and develop a sense of pride for the city,” proclaimed Peter Taylor, Chair of Southampton Chamber of Commerce.

This was a view shared by many of the speakers, including the city council’s chief executive Sandy Hopkins.

“This bid will allow Southampton to be seen as an international city,” she said.

“We are putting ourselves on the UK map – it is our time.”

Daily Echo: Sandy Hopkins, Chief Executive of Southampton City Council speaking at the meetingSandy Hopkins, Chief Executive of Southampton City Council speaking at the meeting

She added: “We are passionate about ensuring that it will build civic pride, community connections, and help residents to start well, live well, and age well. Our local businesses will also gain much from the success of this bid and it provides excellent opportunities that we simply cannot miss, so please join us on this endeavour.”

The city council’s culture chief Cllr Satvir Kaur was another to passionately back the bid, saying that the move was a “real moment for our people and our city.”

She said: “It will finally give people a reason to come to Southampton rather than go through it.

“This bid allows us to show the world who we are and what we have to offer.”

The Labour councillor added: “Culture is the beating heart of Southampton, and it can be felt right across our city.”

Daily Echo: Claire Whitaker, the City of Culture bid director explaining the timeline Claire Whitaker, the City of Culture bid director explaining the timeline

Leader of the city’s Conservative group Dan Fitzhenry backed his political opponent, describing the bid as “more important than the politics – it is about what we can achieve together”.

He added: “I refer to Southampton as an untapped goldmine. It sits here on the table in front of us; now, we just need to unlock it.”

Bid director Claire Whitaker said: “Southampton is a diverse port city with an extremely rich cultural identity. It has been shaped over the centuries by international trade and the movement of people, making it overflow with stories and potential.

“Bidding to become UK City of Culture 2025 provides us with an excellent opportunity to deliver huge social, cultural and economic benefits for the city that will last for years to come. I am so proud and privileged to be Director of the bid and I welcome businesses of all sizes to get involved.”

Deadline for submitting the bid is September 2021, with a winner expected just a few months later in December.

As well as this, a consultation is set to be launched later this year for the public to share ideas of how they would like the bid to be developed.

Claire added: “I am looking forward to soon entering our period of consultation and engagement which will span across Southampton, to ensure that the bid programme is shaped by our people and our communities.”

Also at the event, internet provider Toob was announced as the bid’s first commercial partner.

Nick Parbutt, founder of Toob, said: “The UK City of Culture will be a galvanising force that will drive Southampton forward and help it realise its potential. Toob is delighted to be able to support the bid and shares the same belief in the future success of the city.”

Any businesses wishing to get involved in the bid should visit: