Towns set to ramp up City of Culture bid with £200,000 boost

Some of the crowds at the First Light Festival in Lowestoft in 2019.

Some of the crowds at the First Light Festival in Lowestoft in 2019 - an example of existing cultural events to be found in the area. - Credit: Mick Howes

East Suffolk and Great Yarmouth's bid for City of Culture status could receive a £200,000 funding boost. 

The joint bid for UK City of Culture 2025 status will be discussed by East Suffolk Council's cabinet on Tuesday, with funding of £100,000 from both councils being considered to support its development.

Cllr Carl Smith (right), Leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and Cllr Steve Gallant, Leader of

Cllr Carl Smith (right), Leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and Cllr Steve Gallant, Leader of East Suffolk Council, announce the joint bid to become the UK City of Culture 2025, at Somerleyton Hall - Credit: Great Yarmouth Borough Council

With East Suffolk Council (ESC) continuing to work with Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) on the proposal, which could ultimately see Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston become UK City of Culture 2025, the ambitious vision - announced in July - was greeted enthusiastically as 150 letters of support were sent by community leaders, MPs and other key players.

Delivered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in collaboration with the devolved administrations, the competition invited places from across the UK to set out their vision for culture-led regeneration.

It aims to use culture as a catalyst for levelling up areas outside London and putting new parts of the UK on the cultural map internationally.

The Banksy artwork on the corner of London Road North and Regent Road in Lowestoft. 

The Banksy artwork on the corner of London Road North and Regent Road in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

With 20 places from across the UK having submitted bids to become the UK's next City of Culture, later this month the entries will be whittled down to a longlist of six bids.

Those long-listed will be awarded grants of £40,000 to support the next stage of their applications, which will then be cut down further to a final shortlist in early 2022, with the winner due to be announced in May 2022.

Cllr Steve Gallant, Leader of East Suffolk Council, announcing the joint bid with Great Yarmouth Bor

Cllr Steve Gallant, Leader of East Suffolk Council, announcing the joint bid with Great Yarmouth Borough Council to become the UK City of Culture 2025, at Somerleyton Hall - Credit: East Suffolk Council

Last month, East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant said that the Banksy artworks had "drawn particular attention to this part of the world" at "an incredibly exciting few weeks for us" during its City of Culture bid.


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Ahead of the longlist announcement, councillors will meet on September 7 to assess three funding options - with the recommendation to "approve a budget to support the bid to full submission should it be successful in being longlisted and shortlisted."

It is hoped Banksy's visit to Lowestoft could boost the town in its joint UK City of Culture bid

It is hoped Banksy's visit to Lowestoft could boost the town in its joint UK City of Culture bid - Credit: Julie Martin/Mick Howes

A report to councillors, ahead of Tuesday's cabinet meeting at Riverside in Lowestoft, states: "To update cabinet on ESC’s joint bid with Great Yarmouth Borough Council for the City of Culture 2025 and secure a budget to support the bid to full submission should it be successful in being longlisted and shortlisted."

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With GYBC also set to meet this month to discuss a "similar financial request", the funding "will allow ESC and GYBC to develop a strong and compelling application to be the host area for the 2025 City of Culture."

The Out There International Festival of Circus & Street Arts returns to the streets of Great Yarmouth.

The Out There International Festival of Circus & Street Arts returns to the streets of Great Yarmouth in from September 17 to September 19 - an example of existing cultural events to be found in the area. - Credit: JMA Photography

It recommends that cabinet approve a budget of £100,000 to support the development of the City of Culture bid should it be longlisted.

But even if the bid is not successful, councillors are being advised to approve the development of an East Suffolk Cultural Strategy regardless.

With the £100,000 ESC funding "to contribute to a £200,000 budget" to support the development of the next phase of the bid, it adds: "It is proposed that this funding will come from the New Homes Bonus (NHB) Reserve.

"At this stage the two councils have committed relatively modest amounts of expenditure to the bid, however if successful this will increase substantially and will require significantly more human resource."

According to the 'UK City of Culture 2025 Vision' document submitted by the councils, the bid centres around "five themes to showcase our unique offering".

These are entitled: "The irresistible pull…The silver darlings...The blue space…The landscape that ate my heart…Listen to your heart and celebrate…"

It states: "Our key messages for our bid campaign centre around the unique and varied nature of our spectacular coastline with its ancient waterways and beautiful inland landscapes, our ecologically rich and diverse wildlife and the wide range of English seaside offerings from the beach huts and wild areas of the Suffolk and Norfolk coasts to the seafront splendours of our resorts."

A GYBC spokesman said the council would discuss its contribution to the bid at a meeting of its Economic Development Committee on September 13.

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