Two weeks ago, Simon and our local MP Rosie Duffield, met with discussed the idea with representatives from the The Canterbury Festival, The Whitstable Literary Festival, Kent Youth Theatre, The Wisewords Festival and The Whitstable Biennale. After the inspiring meeting Simon said ” It is clear that the Canterbury district has a thriving and growing arts sector and making the bid would consolidate and build upon these successful cultural assets. It would further develop the district as a distinctive cultural destination, both nationally and internationally and would help to develop the town’s cultural offering in what is a highly competitive market.”
Last Wednesday, Labour Councillor Simon Warley proposed that Canterbury City Council agree to advance a “credible and attractive bid to be the UK City of Culture in 2025”.
The idea was passed to the Property & Regeneration Committee so that a detailed plan can be brought before the next council meeting but local arts leaders enjoying the Canterbury Festival have already pledged their support.
The UK City of Culture was initially proposed by Andy Burnham following the Liverpool’s successful tenure as European Capital of Culture in 2008. The current UK City of Culture is Hull. In it’s first year, organisers from Hull claim that 9 out of 10 people in the city have been involved with over 450 cultural events organised across the town. Financially, the bid has seen over 1.4 1.4million additional visits to the city and added an estimated £10 million to the local economy.
Whilst some have highlighted that Canterbury’s population is substantially smaller than Hull, it is larger that Colchester & Paisley who have both shortlisted for the award and bigger than Derry which was the first UK Capital of Culture in 2013. The Labour Group believe that a successful bid would accelerate private sector investment in both the arts sector and the wider economy , increase visitors numbers and bolster confidence and pride in the district. It is part of the exciting vision that we have for the town.