The Tees Valley has declared its intent to bid to become the UK City of Culture in 2025.
Teesside University’s former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Henderson, chaired a Task and Finish Group at a Tees Valley Culture summit on Tuesday.
The group, made up of representatives from the five Tees Valley local authorities – Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar & Cleveland, Hartlepool and Darlington – as well as Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU), the university, Arts Council England and other cultural groups, made the recommendation as part of a broader culture report.
The report features a number of recommendations endorsed by TVU to be taken forward through a partnership of the five local authorities working with the wider public and private sectors and the extensive network of independent cultural practitioners in the area.
The group spent the last year exploring how to enhance the Tees Valley’s cultural offer and ensure it better supports the area’s ambitious economic plans by supporting not only growth in the tourism and visitor economy, but in the creative industries, and how culture can be utilised to address issues around employment, education, health and wellbeing and social inclusion.
As part of this work the group has proposed that TVU and its partners should declare an intent to bid for UK City of Culture 2025.
Professor Henderson – pictured (above, centre) with TVU chairman Paul Booth and Stockton Council’s cultural partnership and strategy coordinator Margi Stewart-Piercy, said: “The group believes that over the next 10 years the Tees Valley can achieve a step change by working towards city-scale cultural programmes and the run up to 2025 will be a catalyst to drive greater collaboration and exciting new developments.”
Sunderland is bidding for City of Culture status in 2021 – and a successful bid could deter judges from awarding the accolade to the North East successively.
But those behind the Tees Valley bid say it represents a “marvellous opportunity”.
TVU chairman Paul Booth said: “A successful UK City of Culture bid would create a long-term legacy which could generate massive social and economic benefits for many years to come.
“The bid will be developed in consultation with communities and organisations across the Tees Valley.
“Over the coming months and years we will be inviting everyone to join this exciting journey.
“We urge everyone to get involved in this marvellous opportunity to tell the world all about our contemporary strengths as well as our historic achievements.”
The final bidding process is not expected to take place until 2020.