Key Southampton institutions including the University of Southampton, Solent University, Southampton Cultural Development Trust and Southampton City Council came together at the Cultural City event last week to workshop and debate the potential of a bid for City of Culture 2025, and concluded that ‘The time is now right for Southampton’.
The conference galvanized support from a variety of stakeholders in the city, identifying what is unique about Southampton, existing local strengths to build upon, as well as areas for investment and development for the potential bid.
Keynote speaker, Rosie Millard OBE, chair of Hull City of Culture 2017 said, “I really wish the Southampton team all the best for the bid, it is a prize really worth having. It’s been transformative – since 2014 Hull has had £2 billion in investment, 800 jobs have been created and the city has been visited by 5 million people. The perception of Hull has completely changed, it been transformative for the nation, put particularly for the young people in Hull.
Ian Dunn, Chief Operating Officer, University of Southampton and Professor Graham Baldwin, Vice Chancellor, Solent University, Southampton delivered a joint announcement at a reception in the evening at the John Hansard Gallery wholeheartedly supporting the bid.
Ian Dunn, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Southampton said, “Building on our pioneering history of cultural patronage over many decades, the University of Southampton wholeheartedly supports exploration of an ambitious City of Culture bid.
“As has been demonstrated elsewhere, a successful bid has the potential to provide significant social, cultural and economic benefits not only for the city, but for all of us who live, work or study here.
“With the opening of Studio 144 and the John Hansard Gallery in the city centre, the dynamism of the organisations that support the city’s growing cultural infrastructure and a wealth of creative talent in the region, now is the ideal time to promote Southampton’s potential as a City of Culture.”
Professor Graham Baldwin further added: “Solent University is excited to see the ambition behind a potential Southampton bid for City of Culture 2025. As a modern university in the heart of the city, we have first-hand experience of how our teaching and research within art, culture, design and media helps talented students achieve amazing things. We embrace our civic duty and are committed to promoting the cultural, social and economic benefits this great city provides for everyone. Recognition as City of Culture would cement Southampton’s place as a top UK destination and give our community a new and enhanced sense of pride.
“I am therefore delighted that Solent University is co-hosting this Cultural City conference where we can explore what being a city of culture would mean for the well-being of this city and our students and staff; and look forward to working with all partners involved as this ambitious project progresses.”
Whilst Councillor Satvir Kaur, Southampton City Council said, “It is a really exciting time in Southampton, with culture being used as a driving force for creating city pride, economic growth and as an engine to address social needs in our City.
“There is a growing appetite from local and national stakeholders for Southampton to bid for City of Culture, and it is encouraging to spend today discussing how we do that in partnership and collaboration, taking all our diverse communities with us on that journey.
“Hull is a great example of how becoming City of Culture can transform a City, by creating hundreds of jobs, attracting millions of new visitors and generating an inward investment of over £200million. There is no reason why, and every opportunity, Southampton can follow suit.”
Destination Southampton provided the event logistics support for this event.