The secret is finally out – Lancashire is putting together a City of Culture bid to showcase the brilliance of the Red Rose county.
Bosses at Marketing Lancashire and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have confirmed they are in the early stages of putting together a submission for the 2025 crown.
The two organisations held a meeting in Preston on Wednesday to explore the potential and appetite for the bid.
Speaking to the Post, a Marketing Lancashire spokesman said: “The event last night [Wednesday] was actually to talk about putting a bid together. We have done a lot of consultation with our cultural partners.
“A lot of last night was to test the waters in terms of the position in carrying forward with the bid.
“Pretty much every one in the room said yes to that.”
The meeting on Wednesday at the University of Central Lancashire was held with cultural expert Andrew Dixon, one of the masterminds behind the successful Hull bid for City of Culture in 2017, who has been commissioned by the LEP to gather evidence on what a bid would mean for Lancashire.
Rachel McQueen, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire, said: “Andrew has made it clear to us that we have both the ambition and the capacity to put a compelling bid together, but that it will only be successful if it represents and is supported by the entire county.”
A Marketing Lancashire spokesman added: “We have been leading this but actually most bids will pull a bid committee together to head this together.
“We will take the bid as far as we can take it.
“There were people in the room last night from across the county as to put Lancashire’s culture on the map.
“We now have to wait for these people to come to us and be a part of the bid team.
“Although it’s called a ‘city of culture’ bid the Department of Culture Media and Sport [which runs the competition] has always said they will accept a bid covering a region.
“The idea for Lancashire is a combined Lancashire bid because that would be a stronger chance of winning.
“There’s still a great deal to go; to put it in front of multiple culture organisations across Lancashire.”
The UK City of Culture programme was developed by the Government to build on the success of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture 2008 and the Cultural Olympiad in 2012, by creating a national cultural event spread over a year, focused on a particular city or area.
A successful bid by Lancashire is seen to be a catalyst for a step change in the county’s cultural and economic development.
In 2017, Hull reached an estimated audience of more than five million people, leveraged £220 million of investment and created nearly 800 new jobs.
Tony Attard OBE, High Sheriff and Chair of Marketing Lancashire, said: “Culture is a super accelerator for urban regeneration and the benefits of bidding for City of Culture are many.
“The journey will be challenging. It will demand determination, vision, finance, commitment and organization, but above all will demand an applied, unified consensus.
“The prize for Lancashire would be substantial, which is why I am advocating that we bid for UK City of Culture in 2025.”
Lancashire’s bid window will open at the end of 2019 and needs to be submitted in 2021.
The winning entry will be announced in December 2021.