The waves of support, energy and enthusiasm generated by the Swansea 2021 bid will help to fuel the delivery of the city’s established Culture Plan – even though the city has lost out on the UK City of Culture 2021 title, according to the team behind the bid.
The Swansea 2021 team has offered its heartfelt thanks to the thousands of individuals, community groups, stars of screen, stage and sports, as well as schools and stakeholders, who have powered the Swansea 2021 campaign, with Swansea narrowly missing out on the title to Coventry on Thursday, 7th December
Building on the partnerships, energy, long-term thinking, ambition, good-will and enthusiasm behind Swansea’s bid for the UK City of Culture 2021 title, is now the priority for the team behind Swansea’s bid to be UK City of Culture, says Tracey McNulty, who coordinated the bid submission, with a team drawn from multiple organisations, artists, curators, musicians producers and academics in Swansea.
Tracey, who is Head of Cultural Services at Swansea Council, said: “Of course we’re disappointed, we had a strong bid, with credible partnerships and ambitions, and we wanted recognition for that – who wouldn’t? But of course, we’d like to send our heartfelt congratulations to Coventry who were a formidable opponent – we wish them all the best for 2021. We’d also like to congratulate our other three competitors on their bids and campaigns. It was a tough competition and we were very much in it to win it. People in Swansea and beyond all engaged in a fantastic campaign of support and, at the very least, we have demonstrated to others – locally, regionally, nationally and internationally just how far we’ve come as a city. And importantly, just how far we intend to go.”
In order to make the UK City of Culture 2021 shortlist, Swansea had to provide compelling evidence to the independent judging panel that the city was genuinely committed to creating transformation via its cultural strategy, so the shortlisting itself demonstrates the underlying commitment to bringing about real improvement in Swansea.
Tracey continues: “We’re still investing in culture, still investing in arts and learning, and still delivering world class cultural programmes for residents and visitors. We are not throwing the baby out with the bathwater – there is no cliff edge – we return to our cultural plan and continue to build arts and creativity, community health and wellbeing, fun and play, into our regeneration strategies; planning policies and communities. We’re a pioneer area for culture tackling poverty; we’ve got The Killers coming next year; and we’ll soon have a digital arena and new public realm with many opportunities for events, arts commissions and community activity coming on stream.
“Swansea’s emerging Cultural Strategy – the blue print that has already been set out to underpin Swansea’s cultural growth – is unfolding and all the work that has been done for the bid, and all the creative ideas and input that have been fielded, will continue to inform our Cultural Strategy.”
Jane Simpson, director of Galerie Simpson and part of the Swansea 2021 team, added: “Yes we wanted to be UK City of Culture 2021 and yes we needed it, but we lost a competition – not our ambition – we are still a city of culture as evidenced by the incredible creative sector, active artists and the many organisations and individuals in Swansea who came out in force to support this bid. Swansea has been talking culture for months and that conversation will continue. We keep on keeping on!
“Many features of the bid will still go ahead, including the state-of-the-art, digital indoor arena which forms part of the forthcoming Swansea Central development and which is set to be operational in 2020 to host touring shows, concerts, exhibitions, conferences and other events and activities.
There are, of course, many other reasons to be cheerful – the £1.3bn City Deal for the Swansea Bay City Region will see unprecedented investment in world class digital infrastructure across Swansea and South West Wales, giving enterprising talent in areas like the creative industries the chance to excel for generations to come.
Artist, Marc Rees, who was also part of the Swansea 2021 team, concluded: “Despite the result, the team approach continues, the relationships and partnerships are intact and will continue to grow. The bid process has created a unity and cultural conversation between an entire region – and because of that we’re already winners!”
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