UK City of Culture 2021: the judges come to Sunderland

Peter Lathan

The judges for the 2021 UK City of Culture bid will visit Sunderland on Thursday 2 November. 

The judges, led by panel chair Phil Redmond CBE, creator of TV shows Grange Hill and Hollyoaks, include Chair of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture Dr Aideen McGinley OBE, design journalist and entrepreneur Marcus Fairs and economic regeneration tourism expert Suzanne Bond.

The other shortlisted cities—Coventry, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent and Swansea—were visited earlier this month.

Rebecca Ball, Project Director of Sunderland’s 2021 bid, said planning for the judges’ visit had been going on for some time.

“We’ve been working with partners across the city to show the judges how much the city wants to be City of Culture in 2021 since the shortlist was revealed in July,” she said.

“The judges will be in the city for about five hours, which isn’t that long to show them all that is great about Sunderland and to explain how the city and region would benefit from winning the title.

“We’ll be showing them our amazing coastline, our cultural assets such as National Glass Centre, the Empire, The Fire Station, Sunderland Musuem and Winter Gardens and Arts Centre Washington, and we’ll also be taking them to Hendon, Washington and the coalfield villages to show them some of the outstanding artistic and cultural programmes that are already being delivered in our communities.

“The judges will be meeting the city’s cultural leaders, politicians, business leaders and leaders from the University of Sunderland and Sunderland College—but we also believe it’s important they meet those who are delivering arts and culture, and those who are participating in cultural activities across the city.”

The Sunderland bid is supported by local and regional businesses, councils, MPs, colleges, universities, transport companies, health authorities as well as organisations like Sunderland BID, SAFC, Gentoo, the Sunderland Echo and local celebrities.

The winner will be announced in Hull, current holder of the title City of Culture, in December.