Swansea ‘thrilled’ at 2021 UK City of Culture short listing

Swansea's Millennium BridgeImage copyright Getty
Image caption The UK government announces a new City of Culture every four years

The team behind Swansea’s bid to become the UK’s City of Culture for 2021 has said they have learnt lessons from losing out to Hull four years ago.

The city has been shortlisted alongside Coventry, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland, but a bid by St David’s in Pembrokeshire failed to make the cut.

The City of Culture for 2021 will be announced in December.

Film director Kevin Allen, who wrote Swansea-based Twin Town in 1997, said he was “thrilled”.

“I’d be very surprised if we hadn’t [made the shortlist] to be honest if you looked at what we were up against and what we’ve got to offer,” said Mr Allen, who is part of the bid team.

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Media captionRobert Francis-Davies, Swansea council’s cabinet member for culture, believes the city has a good chance of winning

“We got close to the last one with Hull. I think we only didn’t get it last time because it was such a last-minute bid. This is going to be very thorough and the work starts now.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do. Regardless of whether we get it or not, in the end it will be worthwhile because it’s kick-starting lots of great initiatives.”

It is the second time Swansea has been shortlisted for the title, the city lost out to Hull in the competition for the 2017 award.

Image copyright Getty Images

The team behind the 2021 bid had previously said it wanted to host a programme of events which play on the “‘lovely, ugly’ Swansea that Dylan Thomas describes.”

It now has until the end of September to submit a final bid before the winner of the third City of Culture is awarded by the UK government.

If successful the city, which is set for a £500m regeneration, would host a series of cultural events, including festivals, art and theatre performances, following in the footsteps of Derry/Londonderry and 2017 title-holder Hull.

It would also have access to a £3m Heritage Lottery Grant.

“The role that people play is really up to them,” Mr Allen added. “It’s up to us to encourage and develop channels of communication – break down the barriers of perception and conception.


Image copyright St David’s bid

“The perception of culture to some people is scary and it’s all about literature and the arts council and stuff like that but it’s not. I say that openly.

“I farmed for eight years of my life. I learned about the culture of the field. I have respect for people who see art in everything.

“It’s not about being snotty, it’s not about being a snob, it’s not about being highly intellectual.

“It’s about being considerate with each other and communicating and developing ways of enriching our lives and making our communities better. It’s all culture.”

Meanwhile, the team behind the failed St David’s in said they were “disappointed” not to have made the shortlist.

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