The next capital of culture

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

The Wedgwood in Stoke-on-Trent

On Friday the shortlist was announced for the next UK Capital of Culture which will be in 2021. The list is made up of Coventry, Paisley, Sunderland, Swansea and Stoke-on-Trent.

It means that St David’s, Perth, Warrington, Portsmouth, Wells and Hereford miss out despite some  strong reasons as to why one of them should become the next holder.

There have been parliamentary debates about some of the contenders with local MP’s trying to persuade fellow parliamentarians, and more importantly thegroup that makes decisions, that their city should receive the award. One of the debates I remember was about Perth which has the successful Pitlochry Festival theatre on its doorstep as well as two theatres in the city itself. It also has one of the oldest museums in Scotland and hosts the Perth Festival of the Arts.  That such a strong contender has missed the cut suggests that the remaining cities have submitted more appealing bids.

Looking at the remaining five, Stoke-on-Trent might be considered the strongest runner being the centre of a ceramic industry that gave us Wedgwood and styles of pottery that can be seen in museums and galleries around the world. When it seemed that the Wedgwood Museum might have to close, concerted fund raising helped secure it for the nation, the appeal taking just over one month to raise the money such was the cultural and industrial importance of Wedgwood. In 2015, the new World of Wedgwood attraction opened which has been successful in attracting visitors to the city.

But having an existing strong cultural background will not be sufficient. It is also about how a city will use the award to regenerate itself, enthuse its inhabitants and entice the rest of the UK to visit.

So far there have been two winners, Derry/Londonderry and Hull. If politics come into play a Welsh or Scottish city might win. That shouldn’t be the case. The city with the most imaginative plan should win.

It won’t be until December that the winner will be announced. And only when the winning city has begun its year of office will we know whether it will be as successful as Derry/Londonderry and Hull have managed to be.

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