City of Culture 2025

UK City of Culture 2025 shortlist revealed

Bradford, County Durham, Southampton and Wrexham County Borough have been unveiled as the four areas shortlisted to be UK City of Culture 2025.

The four locations were approved by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries based on independent advice made to the Government by a panel of experts led by Sir Phil Redmond.

The finalists were whittled down from a record 20 initial bids to eight long-list applications, which also included Cornwall, Derby, Stirling and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon.

All bids were asked to explain how they would use culture to grow and strengthen their local area, as well as how they would use culture to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sir Phil Redmond, chair of the City of Culture Expert Advisory Panel, said: “Culture can act as a catalyst for community engagement, civic cohesion and a driver for economic and social change as previously seen not just in Derry-Londonderry (2013), Hull (2017) and Coventry (2021), but all those other places who went on a journey to develop their own cultural strategy. Simply taking part has proved a catalyst in itself. We have had a great longlist to select from, which made the shortlisting difficult, but I am now looking forward to visiting each of the shortlisted places with the panel to witness culture’s catalytic effect in action.”

Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 has seen more than £172 million invested in funding music concerts, public art displays, the UK’s first permanent immersive digital art gallery, a new children’s play area in the centre of the city, the new Telegraph Hotel and improvements to public transport.

More than a third of event tickets (43 per cent) issued to Coventry residents as part of the City of Culture went to “financially-stretched people” or those facing adversity and a third of the cultural programme was co-created with local communities.

More than £150 million of public and private sector investment was invested into 2013 winner Derry-Londonderry while the 2017 winner Hull saw a 10 per cent increase in visitor numbers during its tenure.

Martin Sutherland, chief executive of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “This is such an exciting moment for the shortlisted cities and we wish them all the best for the next stage. Holding the title in Coventry has been a privilege and has made a considerable impact already on the city and its citizens. We can’t wait to see what comes next for those who’ve used the bidding process to truly consider the value of culture – all will have inspired the next generation of artists, organisations, funders and supporters. The expert advisory panel, chaired by Sir Phil Redmond, will now visit the four shortlisted places before making their final recommendation in May. The winner will be announced this year in Coventry.”

Image: Bradford 2025