Dundee enters race for European culture title as starting gun is fired

Dundee's new V&A museum is expected to be at the hearts of its bid to be named European City of Culture.
Dundee's new V&A museum is expected to be at the hearts of its bid to be named European City of Culture.
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Dundee has vowed to press ahead with a bid to be named a European capital of culture after the UK Government confirmed it would be hosting the title in 2023.

The Department of Culture Media of Sport has fired the starting gun to find the third British city to claim the honour since Glasgow in 1990 and Liverpool in 2008.

The announcement has ended speculation that the UK would be pulling out of the right out to host the contest for 2023 in the wake of the EU referendum vote.

Dundee City Council leaders immediately declared that they would be taking forward “exciting proposals” to try to secure the title.

They have been exploring a potential bid since 2013 when Dundee lost out to Hull in the race to be named UK City of Culture in 2017.

Today’s announcement came weeks after the Scottish Government demanded clarity over the UK’s involvement in the European Capital of Culture competition amid speculation it was set to pull out in the wake of the EU referendum vote.

Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop had warned that senior figures in Dundee who had spent years preparing for a potential bid faced having "the rug pulled from under them."

The Scottish Government is thought to have offered the backing of agencies like Scottish Enterprise, VisitScotland and Creative Scotland for a potential Dundee bid.

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, as it is due to open in the summer of 2018, just months before the Government will announce the winner.

Dundee City Council winner Ken Guild said: “We’re delighted to hear this news and we can now take forward our exciting proposals for the city.

“Dundee is building an excellent cultural infrastructure and there is huge support from our partners in the Scottish Government for our efforts to win this title for Scotland.

“The energy and enthusiasm of the universities and our cultural sector will ensure that we put forward a strong case for the city. Dundee’s bid will reflect the character of the city and its people.”

A spokesman for Dundee V&A added: "This is exciting news for the people of Dundee. We very much look forward to working with our partners in the city and across Scotland to contribute to the bid, and to show the importance of culture and design to all of our communities."

Dundee is expected to face competition from Leeds and Milton Keynes for the title, which is widely believed to have transformed the image of Glasgow in the wake of the success of its 1990 programme.

UK culture secretary Karen Bradley said: “This Government is committed to building an economy that works for everyone, so all parts of the UK can benefit from economic growth and prosperity.

“Celebrating the cultural heritage and innovation in Britain’s cities is part of our plan for an outward-looking, globally-minded and dynamic country.

“The UK is leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe. We want that relationship to reflect the kind of mature, cooperative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy.”

Ms Hyslop said: “I wrote to the UK Government last month to establish whether it intended to go ahead with its commitment to be the host country for the 2023 European Capital of Culture programme and for clarification on when the bid process would open.

“I’m pleased that progress has finally been made which will help interested cities, including Dundee, develop their plans.

“Culture plays a valuable role in promoting outward-looking, welcoming and progressive values, which are more important now than ever.”