Canterbury City Council have officially agreed with the Labour Party’s proposal to consider placing a bid for Canterbury to become the UK city of culture in 2025. While the council does not need to officially place a bid until 2019, they have stated that they have unanimously agreed to start “looking at the feasibility” of placing in a bid, in a tweet sent out on February 7.
The City of Culture award is a prestigious, and hotly contested accolade for any UK city to obtain. I was first created by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in response to the huge successes generated in rejuvenating Liverpool during the 2008 European Capital of Culture, and was first awarded to the city of Londonderry in 2013. It has since been awarded to several cities across the country in 4-year intervals similar to its European counterpart, including Hull in 2017, and in the future, Coventry in 2021.
There have been several calls for Canterbury City Council to consider making bids to become the City of Culture over the years, with Orlando Bloom advocating for his home city to place a bid to be City of Culture for 2017. However, Canterbury lost to Hull in the final stages of the competition in 2017. The judges claimed the entry was “too generic” to stand up against the diverse competition of the other competing cities.
Canterbury has a long history of being a hugely popular tourist destination, dating back even to the middle ages in its popularity. Should the city prove successful, a new chapter in the Canterbury tale could enfold, one with hugely increased tourism and infrastructure that could place East Kent on the map for millions of holidaymakers for decades to come.
Canterbury also narrowly missed out on the shortlist for 2008 European Capital of Culture to Liverpool, following their bid based on the theme “odyssey”, focussed on a bright future, which was to be reflected both within the city itself and the surrounding East Kent countryside.
Liverpool’s award in 2008 sparked the development of the now world-renowned Liverpool One shopping centre on the previously abandoned Paradise Street in the heart of Liverpool among various other cultural programs aimed at restarting the city’s dwindling tourism industry. These programmes were estimated to have brought in over £750 million over the course of the year and 9.7 million visitors into the city, 34% more than it’s previous year. To this day, revenue and visitor counts in the city remain exponentially higher than before 2008.
It is hoped that if Canterbury is successful in it’s bid for the City of Culture award in 2025, it will receive similar support and growth.