City of Culture bid could boost the whole East Suffolk district
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
East Suffolk's joint bid with Great Yarmouth to become the UK City of Culture in 2025 is for the whole district, not just the Lowestoft area, council leader Steve Gallant has emphasised.
The bid covers the whole area, stretching from Landguard Point in Felixstowe to the village of Winterton on Sea, 10 miles north of Great Yarmouth.
When Mr Gallant first spoke to Great Yarmouth council leader Carl Smith, the idea was for a bid centred on the two large towns on either side of the county border - but that that idea rapidly changed.
"How could you have a City of Culture bid from East Suffolk that didn't include Aldeburgh and Snape, or Framlingham and the Castle on the Hill, or Felixstowe's Landguard Fort, or Sutton Hoo? It had to include the whole districts," said Mr Gallant.
"There certainly is a big emphasis on the culture of Lowestoft and Yarmouth, but it will also include all those other places that are so important for the area's cultural and tourist economy."
One thing Mr Gallant is hoping for is a change in the name of the award: "It has been the City of Culture since it was set up but the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has changed the rules for the next bids - allowing areas like us to apply.
"I know there are already comments that we're 'not a city' but I'm really not worried about that kind of negativity."
The two councils have to send their expression of interest in the bid to the government by the beginning of next week, and should hear in September if they've made the "long list" of applicants. The winning area should be announced next spring.
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Mr Gallant said: "If we won it would be a great benefit to the area, bringing in people from all over the country - but even if we don't I hope it will galvanise people to support the bid and encourage them to really show off what we have to offer.
"There is absolutely nothing to be lost from launching this bid."
There was immediate support for the bid from the business community.
Paul Briddon, President of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce said: “The cultural sector in Suffolk is significant both in terms of the numbers of people it directly and indirectly employs and in its impressive and growing diversity, which is attractive to not only local, but also national and global audiences.
"Therefore, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce welcomes this bid which seeks recognition to showcase and highlight the vibrant cultural riches in evidence from Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft and indeed along the entire coast of our county.
"If successful it would be a further catalyst to help promote Suffolk’s wider cultural offer which stretches into the all areas of the county, such as Bury St Edmunds’ Theatre Royal and the landscapes that inspired the painters Constable and Gainsborough to the vibrant Ipswich Waterfront and its DanceEast and the exciting plans for the Gecko Theatre which are at the heart of the county town’s portfolio of contemporary cultural attractions.
"We wish the bid well and look forward to working with the partnership to develop the narrative to shout about Suffolk and its cultural heritage’’