Dundee goes ahead with European culture capital bid

DUNDEE is set to press ahead with a bid to be crowned Europe’s culture capital in the run-up to its new V&A museum opening.
Artists' impression of the V&A Museum at Dundee. Pictures: ContributedArtists' impression of the V&A Museum at Dundee. Pictures: Contributed
Artists' impression of the V&A Museum at Dundee. Pictures: Contributed

The £1 billion regeneration of its waterfront is also expected to play a key part in efforts to win the title for 2023.

The city council is expected to approve the spending of £25,000 for the initial stages of a bid, despite Dundee losing out on a bid to become the UK’s capital of culture in 2017.

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It has since gone on to be named the UK’s first UNESCO “city of design”, while work recently started on the V&A attraction, which is due to open in the summer of 2018, next to a new public park and events spaces.The city has ambitions to lure the Turner Prize, the Man Booker Prize, Radio 1 and MTV events north. It also wants to be officially recognised as “Scotland’s leader of culture-led regeneration” by 2018.

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 crown, which went to Hull instead.

Actors Brian Cox, Alan Cumming and Tilda Swinton, singer-songwriters Ricky Ross and Sheena Wellington, choreographer Michael Clark, the National Theatre of Scotland, the British Museum, Scottish Dance Theatre and Scottish Ballet were among those hoped to feature in major productions as part of Dundee’s proposed programme for 2017.

Dundee is likely to face even stiffer competition for the 2023 title, which will be going to a UK city for the first time since Liverpool was given the honour in 2008. Glasgow’s cultural renaissance is traced back to its 1990 reign as European culture capital.

Dundee has set out a number of ambitious targets in a new cultural strategy for the next decade, including ensuring the city makes a significant contribution to the national and international stage. Previous cities to hold the title include Istanbul, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Madrid and Lisbon. The current holder is Pilsen in the Czech Republic.

Council leader Ken Guild said: “Our ambition for Dundee is to create jobs and attract visitors to our city through the strong cultural attractions on offer. Culture has been an integral part of Dundee’s regeneration and we want to keep up the momentum.

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“UNESCO City of Design status will help attract further interest in the city and help us to further enhance our creative scene.

“This proposed funding is intended to start the process that will put together a bid for Dundee for the 2023 European City of Culture.”

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Bryan Beattie, who led the UK bid for Dundee, said: “Things are still at an early stage, but there is definitely an appetite for another bid in Dundee after the success of the UNESCO city of design designation and the V&A museum now coming out the ground.

“The UK will be running the competition, which is likely to be see bids invited from interested cities by the end of next year, with the bid process taking place during 2017.”

The Dundee V&A, which will become the UK’s only design museum outside London, is at the heart of the waterfront revamp, which the Scottish Government believes will completely transform the city’s image within five years.

The project, announced in 2007, has been dogged by controversy over lengthy delays and ballooning project costs, which soared from £45m to £80m in January of this year.

Construction work finally got underway on the attraction, which has been designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, at the beginning of March, on a site beside polar exploration ship Discovery.