What is the UK City of Culture?

UK City of Culture is a title awarded to a city in the United Kingdom for one year. During that year the city creates a programme of cultural events of local, national and international appeal, which become a catalyst for regeneration and economic growth.

The initiative is administered and judged by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The title is awarded once every four years and is a hard fought for honour. The inaugural holder was Derry-Londonderry in 2013, with Hull taking over the title this year. Both cities have reported significant social and economic benefits as a result of holding the title. Winning UK City of Culture status would result in a multi – million pound boost for the City, which would do wonders for Swansea’s economy.

Swansea City centre at night

Why Swansea?

It really is Swansea’s time and a once in a lifetime opportunity. Our city is changing rapidly, with urban regeneration and population growth creating a landscape ripe for investment, innovation, diversity and connectivity. Swansea’s ambition and drive has ensured that we have successfully secured investments for the city, including a new City Deal and, subject to government approval, the world’s first Tidal Lagoon, both of which will create a new digital and innovative cultural infrastructure for Swansea by 2021.

We are now looking forward with a new confidence, which will help us tackle the challenges we meet and the opportunities we will face in these rapidly changing times.  There’s never been a better time to win. Swansea is a creative city, rich with heritage, culture, stories and creative individuals – the UK City of Culture status would provide the perfect stage to showcase our amazing talents on a national and international level.

We NEED it, we WANT it and we CAN deliver it.

What do we get if we win?

The UK City of Culture title brings with it significant social and economic benefits.

To illustrate this, Liverpool welcomed an extra 9.7 million visitors to their city during their European Capital of Culture year in 2008 – an increase of 35%. Derry-Londonderry, who took the first UK City of Culture title in 2013, reported that the accolade added £47 million to its coffers. Hull, the most recent UK City of Culture winner, is estimated to enjoy an economic boost of at least £60 million, whilst already having seen a £1 billion boost in investment since being announced the winner of the title in 2013.

Of course, there are many other benefits to be gained by winning this title and which are beyond financial dividends. The international and national exposure enjoyed by UK City of Culture winners, the feel-good factor and sense of pride this fosters among the city inhabitants and the confidence of investors, is worth its weight in gold.

This is a true Team Swansea approach.

The bid team includes:

  • Swansea Council
  • Swansea University
  • University of Wales Trinity Saint David
  • Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Authority
  • Welsh Government
  • Coastal Housing
  • Swansea BID
  • Tidal Lagoon
  • Museums Wales
  • Creative professionals
  • Businesses
  • Arts and cultural leaders

All of whom are working together to ensure the outcomes in Swansea’s bid for increasing and diversifying participation, improving health and well-being and growing the economy are as strong and relevant as possible.

Team Swansea 2021

Who are we competing against?

There are four other cities competing:

  • Coventry
  • Paisley
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Sunderland


What is the timeline?

September – submission of full and final bid.

December – the winning city will be announced. There will then be three years given to the winning city to prepare for the UK City of Culture festival year in 2021.

This post is also available in: Welsh