SNP warns Dundee's European culture capital bid is threatened by Brexit

Dundee's new waterfront V&A museum is expected to be at the heart of any bid to become European City of Culture in 2023.
Dundee's new waterfront V&A museum is expected to be at the heart of any bid to become European City of Culture in 2023.
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The Scottish Government has demanded clarity over whether Dundee will be able to press ahead with a bid to be crowned European Capital of Culture.

Ministers say they are worried the UK Government is on the verge of backing out on plans to be the host country of the title in 2023 in the wake of the Brexit vote.

The UK Government says it wants Britain’s new relationship with the UK to “reflect the kind of mature, cooperative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy.”

But the SNP is adamant the EU referendum vote has “cast doubt” on whether the Government will press ahead with its involvement with the competition.

The Scottish Government is thought to have offered the backing of its agencies for a potential Dundee bid, which

Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop says she has written to her Westminster counterpart, Karen Bradley, for “reassurance” - despite Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson recently insisting that the UK would continued to take part in “European culture ventures” beyond Brexit.

Dundee has been preparing a bid for the honour since 2013, when it lost out to Hull in the race to be named UK City of Culture in 2017.

Dundee had predicted it was set for an £80 million econ­omic boost, 1,000 extra jobs and 1.7 million visitors in 2017 with a winning bid for the UK culture title.

It is hoped the completion of Dundee’s waterfront V&A attraction, which will be the UK’s only design museum outside London, will bolster the city’s chances.

Dundee, which was named by UNESCO as the UK’s first official “City of Design” nearly two years ago, is expected to be up against Milton Keynes and Leeds for the European title, which is widely credited with transforming the fortunes of Glasgow after its reign in 1990.

Ms Hyslop’s letter to Ms Bradley states: “Dundee is the first UNESCO City of Design in the UK, a prestigious award that recognises the huge contribution the city has made to design worldwide. This richly deserved accolade further strengthens the city’s growing reputation as a hub of cultural and creative excellence and an international centre for the creative industries whilst the continuing regeneration of Dundee and its Waterfront will give the city a world-class design museum in the V&A.

“International engagement makes a crucial contribution to sustainable economic growth, bringing new perspectives, fresh ideas and new partnerships. Culture, innovation, research and design can transform lives and facilitate international dialogue and must be at the forefront of our continued development.”

Ms Hyslop said: “Dundee City Council’s aspiration is to bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.

“They have put a considerable amount of time, effort and expense into scoping out their bid and are excited about the cultural, regenerative and economic benefits it would generate in Dundee, Scotland, the rest of the UK and Europe.

“However, with the increasing likelihood of a hard Brexit being pursued by the UK Government, I am concerned that the delay in launching the competition is a signal of the Government’s intention to renege on its agreement to be a host city. Dundee must not now have the rug pulled from under them.

“I hope to receive reassurance that the UK Government intends to go ahead with its commitment to be the host country in 2023 and clarification on when the bid process will open.”

Dundee City Council leader Ken Guild added: “Dundee has planned to be a candidate city for the European Capital of Culture in 2023 and would be hugely disappointed if it was denied the opportunity to present its case as a city which represents the ideals of the European Capital of Culture.”

A spokeswoman for the UK Government’s department of culture, media and sport said: ““The people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union.

“Until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member with all the rights and obligations of EU membership.

“The outcome of these negotiations will determine what arrangements apply in relation to EU-administered programmes once the UK has left the EU.

“We want a new relationship to reflect the kind of mature, cooperative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy.”