Dundee eyes European Capital of Culture 2023 bid

THE TEAM behind Dundee’s failed bid to become UK City of Culture said yesterday that they will compete for the title of European Capital of Culture in 2023.
Dundee failed in a bid to become UK City of Culture. Picture: TSPLDundee failed in a bid to become UK City of Culture. Picture: TSPL
Dundee failed in a bid to become UK City of Culture. Picture: TSPL

Dundee lost out to Hull last week in the competition to win the 2017 UK title despite a strong bid that included plans to host the Turner Prize, the Man Booker Prize and a range of cultural events. The other two competitors were Leicester and Swansea Bay.

But bid director Bryan Beattie told Scotland on Sunday the team hoped to revive the bid with a view to entering Dundee for the Europe-wide competition, which will next be awarded to a British city in 2023.

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“We found out on the day that the reason we didn’t get [the UK City of Culture title] is that Hull’s need was seen to be greater, and given the nature of the UK City of Culture – which is to assist with cities making a step change, we are obviously no longer seen in that category,” he said.

“That made us think that we should be looking at the next stage, ten years down the line, which is the opportunity to host the European Capital of Culture and what we need to do to improve the infrastructure to become a genuine contender for that.”

Dundee had predicted it was set for an £80 million econ­omic boost, 1,000 extra jobs and 1.7 million visitors in 2017 with a winning bid.

Beattie said that the city was now planning on a ten-year cultural strategy – named Decade Dundee – towards making it a potential European Capital of Culture, a title last won by a British city in 2008 when it was awarded to Liverpool. He also said that Dundee would also consider applying to become a Unesco City of Design, similar to Edinburgh’s status as a Unesco City of Literature and Glasgow’s as a Unesco City of Music.

As well as the variety of cultural events listed in the bid, the city also has the V&A Dundee, scheduled to open in 2016, and the £1 billion transformation of the city’s waterfront. Beattie says that he hopes elements of the bid – such as a Festival of Football, a comic school backed by DC Thompson, and projects with the National Theatre, Scottish Opera and the actor Brian Cox – would still go ahead.

The bid team will meet with culture minister Fiona Hyslop before the end of the year to discuss potential options. The Scottish Government had prev­iously committed to contributing £6m towards the £25m budget for hosting the UK City of Culture.

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“Hopefully, when the bid team gets a chance to sit down with Fiona Hyslop we will have a range of projects ready to show her and say ‘here is the interest and the feedback, how do we go about it?’ As ever, it is going to have to be a joint way forward. We’ve had great support from government agencies so far – it would be daft to stop there.”