This is the time for the region to throw its weight behind Sunderland’s City of Culture Bid, according to leaders preparing to make the case for the city.
January 18 marked 100 days until Sunderland’s first stage bid is submitted, and now the team from Sunderland 2021, who are preparing to write the bid; and the wider North East cultural community are making a plea to the whole region to show their support for a title that could bring many millions of pounds to the North East.
Sunderland is currently second favourite to scoop the City of Culture 2021 crown, and would take the title from current winner Hull. The city will make an initial submission in April, and will hear within months whether it has made the shortlist.
Rebecca Ball, director of Sunderland 2021, has said the whole region must get behind the bid, if it is to capture the attention of the judges.
She said: “We need people and businesses to lend their collective voice to the campaign to make Sunderland the next City of Culture.
“The judges will be looking for a great many things from the winning city, and the competition is tough, but Sunderland is the only North East city to be competing this year, giving us a great opportunity to fly the flag for the region.
“We need as much visible support as possible, so the more people and businesses across the region who download and use the 2021 twibbon on their social media; the more places that display our posters and the more businesses who back us financially or through in-kind support, the better at this crucial stage.”
Sunderland declared its intention to bid in the early part of 2016, and has been developing ideas for the key themes that it will focus its campaign around, and the areas of impact it is hoping to achieve.
A new company – Sunderland Culture - has been formed, to improve the city’s capacity to deliver a cultural programme in 2021, should it secure the title. The organisation, which will be run by Keith Merrin, who is currently CEO at the National Glass Centre, is an innovate model, providing a ground-breaking new way of a city managing its cultural offer. It will oversee the bid.
Merrin said: “The whole city is behind this bid, and we know we have the capabilities and capacity to deliver a stunning year of events and activities, if we are successful in this competition.
“Regardless though, the legacy of this process and the formation of Sunderland Culture, is that culture is now coming to the forefront of the city’s economic and regeneration strategy. It’s an exciting time for Sunderland.”