Lasting legacy for city from UK City of Culture 2021 bid

Published: Wednesday, 27th February 2019

Sixty jobs created, 700,000 overnight stays and 4.9 million day trips are just three of the key benefits resulting from Stoke-on-Trent’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021 during 2017 and 2018.

This is what a new report has shown. 

The report – Together We Make The City: Stoke-on-Trent – Losing The Bid But Winning With Culture – brings together for the first time in one place valuable insight into the legacy from Stoke-on-Trent competing to become the UK’s third city of culture, a bid which later went on to be won by Coventry. Its contents will be discussed tomorrow (Thursday) at a Stoke-on-Trent City Council meeting including deputy leader councillor Abi Brown, who chaired the bid for the city. 

Other successes set out in the report include: 

  • an improved regional and national profile for Stoke-on-Trent as a result of bidding, as well as a growth in pride locally around the city 
  • the key role of the cultural sector and culture in the growth and success of the city and the overall vision for Stoke-on-Trent 
  • lasting partnerships with in-kind contributions that continue to deliver accessible activities and events, with an emphasis on reaching diverse and under-represented groups  
  • an increase in skills, capacity and development working in and around the cultural sector 
  • a new ten-year culture strategy for the city 
  • capital investment of £6m in The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery and improvements in the city’s assets including the city centre and key heritage buildings across the six towns of Stoke-on-Trent 
  • funding bids that have secured hundreds of thousands of pounds’ investment. This includes £210,000 for the restoration of the city’s Mk XVI spitfire from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in conjunction with the Wolfson Foundation – to provide state-of-the-art interpretation of the new gallery at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. In addition, there has been more than £300,000 from Arts Council England to improve tourism and cultural sector links and visitor numbers through the Cultural Destinations programme
  • delivery of other major cultural events within the city including Poppies: Weeping Window, which attracted 122,000 visitors in six weeks and contributed an estimated visitor spend of £33 per person and £4m overall impact on the local economy 

Additional economic benefits identified through the report show an overall increase of 1.1 per cent from £346m to £349m of the total value contributed in the city through the cultural sector, including £255m spent by tourists in the local area. There were also 200,000 overnight visits to the city during 2017 – an increase of nine per cent from the year before bidding began. The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery saw a 24 per cent increase in visitor numbers as a result of all the extra publicity that the UK City of Culture bid attracted, putting it in the top ten free visited attractions in the West Midlands. 

Councillor Abi Brown, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance and partnerships at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “While we did not officially win UK City of Culture 2021, this report shows how we won in so many ways by bidding for the title – from the creation of new jobs in Stoke-on-Trent to contributing millions of pounds of spend to the local economy. It also directly led to improvements in our cultural infrastructure with our six town cultural champions, the local culture education partnership, which puts culture front and centre in learning for every child in the city, and the development and investment in a festival and event programme for Stoke-on-Trent. The legacy benefits have been immense. 

“Our bid centred on the views and aspirations of our communities and this engendered a sense of pride and belief in our city. Most significantly partnerships and collaborations across the city have been created for the long term. The cultural sector, the public sector, major employers, key cultural destinations, universities, community groups and a host of others now work together in a co-ordinated and collaborative way for the future growth and success of the city, and the value of this cannot and should not be undervalued.”

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