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Southend to bid for cultural capital title
2:00pm Friday 1st March 2013 in Local News
GLASGOW, Liverpool, Derry... could Southend be next on the UK’s list of cultural capitals?
The town is gearing up to launch a second bid to be named the UK City of Culture when the title is again up for grabs in 2017 - and supporters are adamant it has what it takes to succeed.
Derry, in Northern Ireland, became first city to hold the mantle, and organise a year-long programme of arts, music and theatrical events, this year. But, despite narrowly losing out during that bidding process, prominent faces in Southend’s cultural scene believe they can mount a stronger campaign this time.
Colette Bailey, managing director of art “laboratory” Metal in Chalkwell, said: “We are in a much better position now than we were before.
“The cultural offerings in Southend are constantly developing and evolving.
“I’m certain we could offer something really different that would capture the imagination.”
Derek Jarvis, the Tory councillor responsible for culture in Southend, agrees.
He said: “So much has changed just in the last few years, and will continue to do so.
“We now have a new cultural centre on the pier, for example, which is already an iconic place for the town.
“It’s no secret that we want to bid for this title and I feel we could put a very good bid together.”
So far, only two cities – Leicester and Aberdeen – have officially stated their intention to bid for the City of Culture title.
The competition was born out of the Labour Government’s desire to capitalise on Liverpool’s success as European Capital of Culture in 2008, and the coalition announced its intention to continue the scheme earlier this year. Southend was one of fourteen cities or urban areas which put their hands up last time, but failed to make the final shortlist of four.
However, last week David Amess, the Tory MP for Southend West, cheekily suggested to culture minister Ed Vaizey in the House Commons that the town might as well be pencilled in for the 2017 title already.
He said: “Although I fully appreciate that my honourable friend must go through the formalities of the bidding process as to which city should be city of culture in 2017, he could save his time and the work of his officials by announcing now that Southend should be the City of Culture.”
It is a view shared by Paul Cotgrove, whose White Bus film company organises the annual Southend Film Festival.
He said: “Southend is certainly becoming a town that is spilling over with culture, what with its art trail, numerous galleries and arts organisations, vibrant music scene, film festivals and theatres.
“With all this to offer, it comes as no surprise that property prices are rising higher in Southend than any other place in the country.”