GO! Southampton, the city’s Business Improvement District has partnered with the City of Culture 2025 initiative.

It has become a City Partner, alongside Southampton’s two universities and the city council.

The chairman of GO! Southampton is Tim Keeping, whose day job is general manager of the Marlands shopping centre.

He said: “This is a very easy fit for us because there is a huge amount of overlap between what we are trying to achieve for our levy-payers and the focus of the City of Culture 2025 bid.

“We are both focused on making Southampton an attractive place to be and where people want to come and spend time.

“And quality cultural activity is a very big part of that, in all its different forms.”

Mr Keeping said GO! Southampton benches project was a good example, in which a number of bench installations across the city were turned over to local artists.

“It has made a huge difference and made people feel better. We all need a bit of extra colour in our lives to brighten things up at the moment.”

Substantial economic benefits will flow from the City of Culture initiative, he added.

“Our counterparts in Hull told us their successful bid for 2017 attracted £676m of public investment into the city. Now of course some of that may have been coming anyway, but it absolutely reinforced that we need to be very much at the heart of the Southampton bid.”

Mr Keeping said the bid was about a wide range of aims and objectives all of which were inextricably linked with the city’s great cultural history, heritage, diversity and talent. These include civic pride and celebration and economic recovery and prosperity.

“We are very much looking forward to playing our part in helping to turn the City of Culture 2025 bid into a reality.”