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What is the UK City of Culture?

Liverpool won the European Capital of Culture title in 2008. This was a Europe-wide competition to highlight one city based on its cultural offer, encouraging people to visit, and bringing in money that helped to support and grow culture in the city even further.

This proved such a huge success for the city and the region that a UK-specific City of Culture initiative was launched in 2013 to give more cities in the UK a chance to hold a title that draws attention to their cultural offering and brings economic and cultural benefits.

Every four years, a new UK City of Culture is chosen. Bradford will be entering a bid to become UK City of Culture in 2025.

Who is involved in Bradford 2025?

Our bid is backed by Bradford Metropolitan District Council with the University of Bradford as a strategic partner.

Bradford 2025 is driven by the Cultural Place Partnership which includes Bradford Council, 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 is chaired by presenter and artist, Shanaz Gulzar. The bid forms part of Culture is Our Plan – Bradford Council’s cultural strategy until 2030.

What are the benefits to Bradford?

Being UK City of Culture will be a real game-changer for Bradford. It will give the city a platform to tell the UK and the world what we have to offer.

It will leave a lasting legacy of increased visitor numbers and a more vibrant, sustainable cultural sector.

And it will improve the quality of life and opportunities for local people, with increased opportunities to participate in culture, to gain experience as a volunteer and to access to jobs in the tourism and cultural sectors.

We hope that our programme will also bring greater community engagement across the district and celebrate our diverse communities.

The UK City of Culture bid for Bradford will be designed to have an impact on the city in the following ways:

  • Increased visitor numbers
  • A vibrant and sustainable cultural sector
  • Job and training opportunities for local people
  • More public participation in cultural activities
  • More engagement of our diverse communities

How can I get involved?

We are hoping that as many people as possible will get involved with the bid in one way or another.

  • Back the bid! We are looking for potential partners, funders and supporters from the business community. For details contact Richard Shaw in the Bradford 2025 office.
  • Have your say! Join one of the consultation sessions in late spring/early summer – sign up to our newsletter to make sure you are first to get the dates.
  • Talk about it! Tell your friends and family. Talk about what culture means to you, and what you would like to see happen in Bradford in 2025.
  • Help spread the message! If you are attending arts and cultural events in the District, post about your experience on social media and tag in @bradford2025 and use the hashtag #Bradford2025.

How is the programme spend decided?

Bradford Culture Company aims to support a broad range of exceptional, high profile new creative work as part of the bidding process. In particular we aim for work that is:

  • Co-created or participatory.
  • Multidisciplinary.
  • Embraces risk and explores new ground
  • LGBTQ, Black, Asian, ethnically diverse-led, deaf and disabled led, and includes a diverse team
  • Site specific to the built environment or in our landscape across the district.
  • Serves our need for capacity-building.
  • Includes collaboration or partnership between local creatives and people from elsewhere in the UK and (where appropriate and possible) abroad
  • Has the potential to speak to national audiences and attract the attention of audiences and media UK-wide.
  • Tours beyond the district.
  • Is designed to test new approaches to appropriately socially distanced activity in the context of Covid-19

We expect to be agile and flexible in making funding commitments. We will fully fund projects where necessary and we will partner with others on some occasions. Our decisions on what to fund will come from:

  • Initial expressions of interest.
  • Open calls.
  • Direct commissions, or invitations to apply for funds.
  • Discussions with collaborators and other funding partners.

The nature of a City of Culture bid is that inevitably we will sometimes work in confidence and by invitation-only to prevent revealing our projects to other competing cities at an early stage, an essential tool in what is a competitive process. We would expect to offer a range of funding opportunities, sometimes working with other funders including the LEAP, Bradford Producing Hub, BMDC and others, on some occasions by collaborating on co-commissions/grant rounds.

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