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Culture bid could change region’s fortunes

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By Fiona Reid
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Culture bid could change region’s fortunes

A BID is being developed for the region to be the host for the UK City of Culture event in 2025.

South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) is bringing together key stakeholders to develop the ‘ambitious’ proposal.

They say it could “provide a fantastic opportunity to shine a light on what the region has to offer”.

For the first time, the competition, which is delivered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in collaboration with the devolved administrations, is open to areas and places joining together.

SOSE is engaging with Borderlands and other Team South of Scotland partners and key influencers to put together a package which celebrates the region’s heritage, culture and creativity, helps recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, and ultimately brings in investment.

Enterprise chair Professor Russel Griggs said: “There has been a transformational impact on communities which have previously been named UK City of Culture, and the change of criteria to allow areas and places to apply opens up an exciting opportunity for the region.

“The richness of our creative and cultural sector makes us who we are and something we rightly want to celebrate. Inspired by our natural landscape, the sector tells a powerful story about our region.

“This competition provides us an opportunity to show what we have to offer to the rest of the world.

“I look forward to discussing further the exciting possibilities of such a bid with partners in the coming weeks.”

Bradford, Medway, Wolverhampton, Cornwall and Wrexham are also preparing entries but Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell believes a joint Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders bid would have what it takes to compete against them and win.

And he thinks it could bring millions into the local economy and help put the area well and truly on the map.

Mr Mundell said: “I believe the Borderlands region is in a strong position to put forward such a proposal. That’s why I am delighted South of Scotland Enterprise and other key stakeholders are already examining the possibilities for a successful bid and why I will do everything I can to help with that process.

“While I can completely understand the attraction of applying for Dumfries to be considered for ‘city status’ as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022, my own view is that a greater and longer-lasting positive impact for the area would come from bidding for UK City of Culture designation, so that is what I think the focus should be on.

“All previous winners of the UK City of Culture designation have seen substantial economic and cultural benefits which have continued over the long-term and this is just the kind of transformative boost that we need locally.”

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