Business leaders from a range of sectors explain to BQ why they believe Swansea deserves to be crowned the UK City of Culture in 2021.
Swansea Council believes a successful City of Culture bid will provide a significant boost to the city's regeneration.
Not only would it see Swansea host a 12-month festival of world class arts and cultural activity, but the council also believes it would create long-lasting benefits for residents, the economy and visitors to the city.
Having previously reached the shortlist for the 2017 title, the council believes it has the right partners and plans in place now and for the future to make an even stronger case for why Swansea should be the UK City of Culture in 2021.
Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council leader, said: "City of Culture status puts cities on the map, brings communities together to celebrate their heritage and diversity and leads to many millions of pounds being spent in local businesses through tourism and day visits. The status also attracts new investment to the successful cities as their reputation grows.
"Winning this title would give local people access to world class cultural activities on their doorsteps, including comedy, dance, film, opera, art, theatre performances and poetry, while also building a legacy for generations to come. Our rights to a cultural and artistic life are key to our policies, so this status would demonstrate that Swansea is committed to these rights now and in future."
But how will it affect businesses and why do business leaders believe the city deserves to be crowned City of Culture 2021? BQ heard from those backing the bid…
Mumbles Pier: We have a series of impressive locations
John Bollom, chairman of Swansea’s family-owned Mumbles Pier, said: “Mumbles is often described as the jewel in Swansea’s crown.
“While this is undeniably true, the reality is that the coastal sweep that encompasses the city is made up of a series of impressive locations.
“Having previously bid to be City of Culture, Swansea not only rediscovered relationships between the creative arts and the wider interests, it looked at its heritage in a new innovative light.”
He added: “Among the opportunities is a new life for the Victorian pier sited at the southernmost tip of the bay and which can be seen from pretty much every vantage point.
“An iconic feature, Mumbles Pier was built in 1898 and has seen several incarnations – including a terminus for the Mumbles Train, claimed by some to be the world’s first passenger railway.
“Although the railway is long gone, the famous jetty remains and we are currently embarking on multi-million pound regeneration and restoration project.
“Backing from a successful City of Culture bid would help complete this transformation and bring new visitors who can experience the diverse and beautiful nature of Dylan Thomas’ “ugly, lovely town” and see how derelict dockland across the bay has been transformed into vibrant new communities.”
Swansea Bay Futures: We are a Premier League city!
Swansea Bay Futures was set up in 2006 to help connect and promote businesses and organisations in the Swansea Bay region. As a ‘not for profit' organisation its core goal is to facilitate economic growth for the benefit of the area.
Speaking about why Swansea deserves to win the UK City of Culture 2021 title, Helen Bowden, chief executive, said: “Swansea has a history of culture and a strong visibility in the UK.
“We are a premier league city, thanks to the ongoing success of The Swans, and we have a beautiful coastline with some incredible places to stay and visit.
“Alongside this we are undergoing a huge amount of re-development and the investment into the area is huge with City Deal and potentially Tidal lagoon.
“As a city, we are on the map in the UK and worldwide, and the ideas that the local authority has for redevelopment will mean we can host a huge amount of events to encourage jobs and visitors as well as a commitment to the local economy.”
And when asked what benefits winning the bid bring to the local economy, Bowden added: “Local business needs more opportunity; opportunity to tender and opportunity to work with local initiatives and development.
“The City of Culture has already transformed the likes of Liverpool and Hull in encouraging better and bigger events that include all aspects of business as well as encouraging job growth and value.
“The ramifications of that level of growth is hugely important and beneficial to the whole region at a time of development - every business could benefit.”
Elysium Gallery: We have an artray of talent waiting to be unleashed on the bigger stage
Jon Powell, director at Elysium Gallery and Artists Studios said: “Swansea has a wonderful mix of creative activities and talent that is just waiting to be unleashed onto the bigger stage.
“It is a close knit, creative multi-cultural community that has created an arts scene that is the envy of other towns and cities in Wales and would in my opinion present the best UK City of Culture programme of activities to date!”
Asked how it will benefit Elysium as a business, he adds: “The Swansea scene has thrived despite very little resources, we so desperately want to bring in wider audiences to show off Swansea and South Wales to the rest of the world.
“A muliti national audience would significantly boost networks and activities. The economical and building bridges opportunities presented are equally as important.”
Saecom: It’ll give us the recognition we deserve
Stephen Evans, director of Swansea-based telecommunications company Saecom, believes a successful bid would provide a major boost to the city’s family-run businesses.
He said: “Winning the bid would bring a fantastic range of cultural activities and opportunities to Swansea.
“With the city’s current regeneration projects and business developments in SA1, the City of Culture Status would provide the city with a presence and recognition that Swansea deserves.
“As a local family run business, we strive to build close relationships with people both in the local community and nationwide.
“City of Culture status would enable us to have conversations with customers across the UK.”
And as well as businesses, both Carmarthenshire Council and Neath Port Talbot Council are also backing the bid as a successful campaign would also boost the wider city region.
Cllr Emlyn Dole, Carmarthenshire Council leader, said: "If Swansea was to secure UK City of Culture status in 2021, it would boost Carmarthenshire too.
“Not only would the status attract more tourists to discover all we have to offer here, but it would also give Carmarthenshire people even more opportunities to enjoy top class cultural activities in the South West Wales area."
Cllr Ali Thomas, Neath Port Talbot Council leader, added: "On behalf of Neath Port Talbot, I'd like to wish Swansea all the very best for a successful bid.
“The whole City Region is already renowned for its contribution to culture across the world, but this status would give local people a fantastic contemporary programme of events to enjoy while also leaving a long-lasting legacy for future generations."
For more information on the Swansea 2021 bid and to find out how to get involved, visit: http://www.swansea2021.co.uk/