Wolverhampton joins race to become UK City of Culture in 2025

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, the MP for South Staffordshire, is among those backing Wolverhampton's formal bid.

Wolverhampton City Council has confirmed that it will bid to be named as the UK City of Culture in 2025.

City Council leader Ian Brookfield said the city had a strong case to make because of its existing cultural assets and bold plans to become an “events city” with a growing international profile.

A formal expression of interest has been sent to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport by the local authority, setting out details of the bid’s four themes, including efforts to boost the music, creative and digital sectors.

The City Council is leading the bid, which has the backing of Education Secretary and South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson, on behalf of a partnership of arts, culture and other organisations, known as Wolverhampton’s Cultural Compact.

Wolverhampton Millennium cities
A sign welcoming visitors to Wolverhampton, which was made a city in 2000

Mr Brookfield said: “Wolverhampton is a fantastic, culturally rich, diverse and dynamic city that’s going places.

“We have worked hard to create momentum on this to build on the very strong foundations we know we have.”

Major investment in its nationally-renowned Civic Halls, railway station, transport hub, and a new five-year event strategy which has landed the British Art Show, had provided building blocks for the bid, Mr Brookfield added.

The council leader said: “We are under no illusions, many places will want the honour of being crowned 2025 City of Culture, it will be competitive process and Coventry currently hold the title, so the judges may choose to look for somewhere outside the West Midlands.

“However, we believe that we have a strong case to make both in terms of the amazing cultural assets we already have in the city, our bold plans for becoming an ‘events city’ in the future and the potential that winning this honour would have to fast-track our city’s growth, international profile and reputation.

“So we are going for it, we have notified the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of our interest and we look forward to working with Government to be able to submit a full bid.”

Mr Williamson wrote in a recent letter to Mr Brookfield: “Making Wolverhampton the UK’s next City of Culture would bring well-deserved recognition to the city.

“This would not just benefit this dynamic and culturally diverse city but would also bring visibility, benefits, and opportunities to the West Midlands, including my own constituency of South Staffordshire.”

The bid is also supported by major city institutions including Wolverhampton Wanderers, the University of Wolverhampton and the Grand Theatre.

Other areas bidding for the accolade include Durham, Southampton, Lancashire, Wakefield, Cornwall, a joint bid from Exeter and Torbay, and a cross-border consortium of local authorities spanning the England-Scotland border.

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