“ON the outside it could seem an unlikely mix. One border, two countries, five different areas. Then the Borderlands is a truly unique place to put itself forward for UK City of Culture.
It is a place forged by a history that has given the people who live along it a distinct outlook on life.
First came the Romans: to build a mighty frontier and name it after their emperor.
Then came the Border Reivers: riders and raiders who terrorised the English-Scottish divide. Back then the border was fluid and these were hard lands to live in.
Yet out of hardship came a sharp focus on mastering the simple tapestry of daily life – of land well-tended, of products made to last, of tales well told, of togetherness with neighbours and warm hospitality to strangers.
Values and traditions that have outlasted fashion and which today many in our hectic, throwaway world are reflecting on and looking to with fresh eyes.
Borderlands as a place that is not so much an exemplar of how we used to live but how we want to live now. Culture as something threaded through our lives and not something to just visit or buy.
This is an area of outstanding natural beauty and that is central to our case as well. It is a place to think and breath; an isolated area that over the years has shaped a set of disparate survivors to become a community of creators.
Artists, writers, poets – you name it, as a broadcaster, I have filmed it here.
Because cultural talent has long been nurtured in the Borderlands. Legions of artists and creators have made and continue to make their home in the Borderlands.
We have land art. We have museums and galleries galore. This place and its unique landscape and light is a magnet for artists and photographers.
Yes, a place to draw people to but also one with untapped talents and skills in our Border people to draw out and shout about.
A place to set new voices free and place new hands on the wheel. Creating activities and content that will make us all – locals and visitors alike – think anew about what we mean by culture and the value culture brings to our daily lives.
We are the right place, we have the right people and this is the right time to set and tell that new story.
We know it won’t be easy. Twenty places have thrown their hats in the ring for this City of Culture contest. But the benefits could be huge.
New connections and partnerships forged. Millions of pounds coming into the local economy. An army of volunteers mobilised, hundreds of jobs created, and a legacy of confidence and creativity in our young people for generations to come.
Most of all, a showcase for the world to see what we have to offer and a launch pad to connect us afresh with the world around us.
A vibrant, contemporary cultural destination growing together in harmony with an ancient, awe-inspiring natural landscape.”