ABERDEEN City Council has appointed the team which is to spearhead the authority’s drive to become Britain’s City of Culture in 2017.
The team will be led by Rita Stephen, who is currently the development managed for ACSEF, the North east’s economic forum. Ektor Tsatsoulis has been appointed the bid co-ordinator and joins from the team trying to win the European City of Culture bid for Paphos in Cyprus.
The post of bid manager had to be readvertised earlier this year because of the lack of suitably qualified people applying for the job.
Councillor Barney Crockett, the leader of the city council, said: “I think we have an exceptional team to lead our bid. It will be challenge but the challenge for the judges, picking the winner, will be that our bid will be very unlike any other.
“Most cities will be those which are seen as very public sector orientated and requiring the boost that the UK City of Culture award might give. We are very much the other side of the equation. As far as I can work out, we have the smallest public sector as a proportion of the economy of any part of the European Union outside the South east of England. And we are putting forward a very thriving, private sector orientated city. It should be quite a different offering.”
Mr Crockett continued: “I am extremely confident. But it will be unusual to see a thriving, private sector orientated city even taking part in this kind of competition. And, if we can get a very big buy-in from the private sector I think that we would have an overwhelmingly strong case to put forward.”
He added: “We are going to do a lot in the way of cultural developments in the city, regardless of the outcome of the bidding process. We met with the Heritage Lottery Committee in Scotland last week to discuss a very ambitious programme featuring the redevelopment of the Art Gallery and the Cowdray Hall. We are fully committed to £30 million plus to do that. We will be making a huge increase in our cultural offering regardless of the outcome but we are very confident of being short listed.”
The short list for the title is expected to be announced by the end of April.
Lord Provost George Adam said: “This is a strong team that’s been assembled. Rita’s track record of working with partners to deliver big events for the city like the Tall Ships, Hogmanay in the Castlegate, the Radio 2 week is second to none.
“For me Aberdeen being the UK City of Culture in 2017 isn’t about where we are now but where we could be. This is an opportunity to transform the city and inspire generations of Aberdonians to be involved in culture and to become creative. 2017 is going to be a great year.”