THE campaign to win Chester City of Culture status for 2017 has been boosted by the news that this year’s title-holding city has enjoyed an incredible £100m worth of investment.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s City of Culture bid team won its race against the clock to meet Tuesday’s midnight deadline – with minutes to spare.
And the tremendous support the bid has already received is expected to increase after 2013 title holders Derry-Londonderry revealed yesterday its success had prompted a massive £100m in public and private sector investment.
Staff worked flat out into Tuesday evening to put the final touches to the £10.9m bid aimed at convincing Whitehall that Chester will match all its essential criteria for the UK’s City of Culture, 2017.
The 48-page bid blueprint has been passionately supported by the city’s culture, business and commerce communities.
This included backing from The Chronicle which featured the campaign on last week’s front page and whose editor Michael Green is quoted supporting the bid on page two of the document.
Yesterday it was revealed that the celebrations would be spread across a wide variety of headings ranging from theatre, music, dance and visual arts to literature, poetry, heritage, green spaces and the built environment.
This would be supported by the inaugural season at the proposed new theatre in the former Odeon building, a packed programme of festivals, events and activities and the cycle of Chester Mystery Plays specially brought forward a year to back the bid.
And to meet bid directives, there will be a strong digital theme running throughout the programme which will reach out from the Chester hub to every part of the borough, including its rural hinterland.
One of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s main stipulations for the UK 2017 City of Culture ‘will be to deliver a programme that uses culture and creativity to lead to lasting social regeneration’.
Introducing the bid document, council leader Mike Jones: “This is a unique and historic city, recognised as the jewel in the crown of the North West, the perfect backdrop for a celebration of cultural activity.
“But Chester isn’t a museum. It is a contemporary, vibrant city facing similar challenges to others around the UK.
“The difference here is that rather than cutting our contribution to culture, we are substantially investing in a sector which we believe will position us as an attractive location for business once the economy improves.”
Opposition leader, Cllr Justin Madders, said: “If we are successful with the bid, it is my hope that this will focus the council’s work from now until 2017 on delivering the greatest benefits to all our communities – particularly the most disadvantaged.
“The benefits, both cultural and economic need to be delivered for all.”
The bid sets an ambitious 6% uplift in visitor numbers during 2016/2017 – on top of the 15% increase target for 2015. The City of Culture programme would encourage more visitors to extend one night stays and significantly raise the amount tourists spend in the city.
There are extensive plans to maximise the benefit for local businesses by integrating culture, retail, food and drink as an essential part of the experience for visitors to stay longer and soak up the festival environment.