Culture plays a vital social and economic contribution to the city. It promotes us to the nation and the world as a vibrant, creative and confident place to visit, live and work in. I’m also a great believer in culture and art as a means of personal transformation. It raises aspirations, enables us to explore skills we never knew we had and connects us with others in our neighbourhood for the benefit for every corner of the district.
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council
The title for UK City of Culture is awarded every four years by Government.
The UK City of Culture title has had a transformational impact on previous host cities, securing millions of pounds of investment and acting as a catalyst for creative place-making and culture-led regeneration. Bradford joins a number of cities and areas competing for the title, with Lancashire, Medway, Gloucester and Southampton already having announced their intentions to bid.
Bradford district, which as the UK’s 6th largest city is twice the size of Hull which hosted the title in 2017, is one of the youngest cities in Europe (29% of its population under 20 and nearly a quarter under 16) and one of the most diverse in the UK.
Bradford is home to the National Science and Media Museum, the Alhambra Theatre, playhouses in Bradford, Bingley, Keighley and Ilkley and a cultural heritage that includes the Brontës, JB Priestley, David Hockney and Zayn Malik. It recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of being named the first UNESCO City of Film.
Bradford has some exceptional large-scale venues including Salts Mill, the Grade II listed St George’s Hall (which recently underwent a £9.5m restoration project), and work is underway to open the former Odeon as music venue ‘Bradford Live’.
The district is also home to Bradford Producing Hub (a consortium of Bradford organisations and artists led by Theatre in the Mill, Mind the Gap, Kala Sangam, 154 Collective, Common Wealth and Displace Yourself) a pilot project funded by Arts Council England; receiving £1.5m to develop local talent and boost the city’s ability to produce new work. And The LEAP is the new Creative People and Places programme for Bradford, working to create arts experiences for, by and with local communities where people tend to engage less with arts and culture.
Home-grown arts organisations include England’s largest learning disability theatre company, Mind the Gap; Bradford Literature Festival; female-led political theatre collective Common Wealth; Freedom Studios; intercultural arts hub Kala Sangam; Bradford Community Broadcasting; independent artists and a wide range of independent cultural companies, all of which are successfully engaging new audiences.
Bradford’s bid is backed by Bradford Metropolitan District Council with the University of Bradford as a strategic partner in Bradford’s 2025 City of Culture bid. The bid is driven by a newly formed Cultural Place Partnership which includes Bradford Metropolitan District Council, the University of Bradford, Bradford College, Bradford-based live arts company, The Brick Box, other representatives of the cultural sector and national funders. The Cultural Place Partnership is chaired by Leader of Bradford Council, Susan Hinchcliffe and the UK City of Culture bid chaired by artist, producer and TV presenter, Shanaz Gulzar.
The bid will form part of the Council’s plans for a new Cultural Strategy for the next decade, which will be published in 2021.
Bids for the UK City of Culture 2025 will be submitted in 2021 and the winning entry will be announced in May 2022.
Bradford based artist Mahmud Manning uses traditional techniques to create his own cultural map of Bradford. Film by Pishdaad Modaressi.
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