No win - but onward and upward for Sunderland!

Peter Lathan

Although Sunderland did not win its bid to become UK City of Culture 2021, it promises great things to come.

Keith Merrin, Chief Executive of Sunderland Culture and part of the bidding team, said, “over the coming months, we will be making announcements about some of the great things that will come out of our bid and we are determined that we will carry on with the fantastic work we have started.

“There will be a lasting legacy from the bidding process. Sunderland Culture, formed by the partners responsible for mounting the city’s 2021 bid to manage Sunderland’s cultural venues and programme, has already successfully raised more than £3.5m that will be pumped into developing Sunderland’s cultural scene.”

"Naturally, we are disappointed," added Rebecca Ball, the Sunderland 2021 bid director, “but also very proud.

"We developed an exciting and compelling bid, shaped by hours of feedback from people from the city and beyond and we want to reassure people that all that hard work and valuable contributions will be used to shape our cultural future.

"Our bid really got to grips with what Sunderland is about now, and what people want it to be in the future. It was packed with ideas, thoroughly deserved to be on the shortlist and there is a huge amount of support and momentum to make many of them happen despite not winning the title."

Coun Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, pointed out how other North East cities who have been unsuccessful in the competition in the past had attracted huge investment regardless and were able to introduce large-scale events and arts programmes into their cultural calendar.

“Look at Durham, which was unsuccessful in its bid in 2013,” he said. “Despite this, Lumière was born out of the competition, an event that delivers a £9.6 million boost for the city every two years and has cemented Durham’s place as a cultural tourist destination.  

“Our other near neighbours Newcastle Gateshead were also unsuccessful in their quest to win European Capital of Culture in 2008, and they’ve gone on to deliver huge cultural programmes since, next year hosting the Great Exhibition of the North.

“We were always very clear that this bid, win or lose, would deliver a lasting legacy for Sunderland. And it will—it has already brought increased investment and a higher profile to the city.”