Stirling vows to ‘unleash’ culture capital ambitions after UK bid is thwarted

Stirling has vowed to "unleash" its ambitions as a culture capital in Scotland after losing out on a bid to win a coveted UK crown - insisting its plans will now become a "road map" for the future.

Stirling's hopes of being crowned the next UK City of Culture have been dashed. Picture: Julie Howden
Stirling's hopes of being crowned the next UK City of Culture have been dashed. Picture: Julie Howden

Backers of Stiriing's bid to be named the next UK City of Culture have pledged to "maximise" its energy and vision despite being ousted from the final four of the contest for the 2025 title.

More than 1000 businesses, organisations and individuals backed Stirling's bid, which council chiefs said had restored "civic pride and optimism" in the wake of the pandemic.

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Stirling Council chief executive Carol Beattie said: “We’ve built strong partnerships across our communities that will help us unleash Stirling’s distinctive and inclusive cultural potential.

Stirling's hopes of being crowned the next UK City of Culture have been dashed. Picture: Thomas Haywood
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“We’re working together and are more determined than ever to deliver on our cultural ambitions for the people of Stirling.

“This isn’t the end, it’s the start of another exciting chapter. Stirling is alive with culture.”

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The whole of Stirlingshire was planned to host events, festivals and initiatives if the bid – which was led by the Scene Stirling collective – was successful. Other backers included the music education charity Sistema Scotland, Stirling University and the Macrobert and Tolbooth arts centres.

Scene Stirling manager Kevin Harrison said: “We’ve been on an incredible journey these past few months and it doesn’t end here.

“We’re committed as ever to working together to realise Stirling’s arts and cultural ambitions and now we have the road map to get us there.”

Nicola Killean, chief executive of Sistema Scotland, said: “The process has been a great opportunity to promote all that Stirling has to offer and think ambitiously about what it might achieve in the future.

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"The bid brought together many partners across Stirling and beyond to dream big about what we can do together. We’ll very much be looking forward to continuing that work to ensure we maximise the energy and vision this galvanised for the benefit of children, young people and communities."

Dundee and Paisley had previously reached the final stage of the contest, which is run by the UK Government and welcomed joint bids for the first time.

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Stirling had been flying the flag for Scotland in the competition after making the longlist of eight contenders last autumn, fending off competition to represent Scotland from a “Tay Cities” bid involving Angus, Dundee, Fife Council, and Perth & Kinross, and a cross-border bid, which saw Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders collaborate with Northumberland, Cumbria and Carlisle.However Stirling's bid was ousted by Bradford, County Durham, Southampton in England and Wrexham in Wales.

Coventry, which is staging its programme after securing the title in 2017, has received more than £18.5 million in funding from the UK Government and attracted more than £170m worth of linked investment.

Iain Munro, chief executive of national arts agency Creative Scotland, said: “Stirling’s ambitious bid reinforces the importance of the arts and creativity to local communities, to their wellbeing, the economy, and to Scotland as a whole as we emerge from the pandemic.

"Stirling has strong foundations for culture-led regeneration, with a thriving creative scene ready to welcome visitors from across the UK and abroad.

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"We look forward to continuing to work with partners in Stirling to enhance the creative offer of the city.”

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