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Cultural drive will continue despite failed City of Culture bid


WARRINGTON has failed to be shortlisted for the 2021 UK City of Culture title.

The Five towns and cities shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2021 are Coventry, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea.

The news brought disappointment for Warrington’s bid team, but Chair, Cllr Dan Price remains positive about Warrington’s future cultural offering:

“We knew the bid would be a competitive process and we presented a strong bid to DCMS, but there were simply towns and cities out there with a more compelling case on this occasion”, he said.

“This was our first application for the title and while we were never guaranteed success, the bid has resulted in local and national media attention that has put Warrington on the map and set a clear focus for what we hope to achieve in the future. It’s worth remembering that Hull bid for the title and lost first time around and while we won’t take a decision now on whether to bid again in the future, we fully intend to build on the work that’s gone into the bid to deliver a cultural offer that Warrington can be proud of.

“I want to stress that this is not the end of the journey it’s just the beginning. Our cultural drive will continue.”

Shaping Warrington’s cultural offering for 2021 and beyond, the bid was led by a public and private sector board with a breadth of experience across the arts, production, broadcasting, creative and digital industries, education and business.

Warrington’s initial bid submission was founded on the borough’s rich industrial heritage, with themes focusing on its development and regeneration, while embracing its unique location, character and traditions.

Cllr Price continued: “The positive experience of bidding for UK City of Culture has presented an opportunity to accelerate our creative programme that will shape the development of cultural activities across our communities for the coming years. There are many elements of the bid that we intend to bring to fruition regardless of today’s decision and the bid has enabled us to start to build far stronger relationships with potential funders which will help us to achieve this.

“I would like to thank the people of Warrington and across the north west who have supported the bid and ask them to keep positively promoting Warrington as we grow and evolve into a wonderful cultural city.

“I also want to congratulate the shortlisted towns and cities and send our best wishes as they progress to the next stage of the selection process.”

Warrington’s aim will now be to build on the opportunities that have been developed during the bid process.

have been shortlisted to host UK City of Culture 2021, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, John Glen announced today.

The announcement comes following a meeting of the independent advisory panel chaired by Phil Redmond. Of the eleven towns and cities that registered bids for UK City of Culture 2021, five have been shortlisted for the prestigious award.

Hull is the current City of Culture and its programme includes 365 days of cultural events. It is estimated that City of Culture has brought a boost of £60 million to the local economy in 2017. Nine out of 10 residents have attended, or taken part in, an event as part of Hull 2017 and the city has seen over £1 billion of investment since winning the title in 2013. The winner of UK City of Culture 2021 will also have access to a £3 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism said: “We have received strong bids from across the UK and now have a fantastic shortlist of five that reflect the diversity and cultural ambition of our towns and cities.

“I want to congratulate all eleven bids which offered brilliant examples of how to celebrate their own unique culture and heritage, and showed just how prestigious and coveted the UK City of Culture is.

“The strength of the competition showed us how valuable our cultural assets are to our towns, boosting tourism and jobs in local communities. I have seen first hand how Hull has embraced its status as City of Culture 2017, and how beneficial it has been for the area. I am looking forward to seeing what will come in 2021.”

Phil Redmond, Chair of the UK City of Culture panel said: “The quality, commitment and enthusiasm that came across from the eleven bidders made deciding a shortlist to recommend to Ministers as difficult as it was for the two previous UK City of Culture competitions. The appetite for using culture to bring about regeneration and to strengthen communities is clearly stronger than ever. Overall the panel thought that five cities’ bids showed the potential to deliver a UK City of Culture 2021 programme. I want to thank all eleven bidders for all their work and look forward to final bids from Coventry, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea later this year.”

Martin Green, Director of Hull 2017, said: “We’re only halfway through the year and we’re already seeing the huge benefits Hull is enjoying as UK City of Culture, not only in raising the profile of the city on a national and international scale but also increasing pride and participation among the people who live and work here.

“At least 450 events, exhibitions and cultural activities took place during the first season, attracting over 1.4 million visits, which is boosting the economy. But what has impressed me the most is how the people of this city have taken ownership of their year with 90% trying at least one cultural event in the first three months.

“Of course, none of this would be possible without the vision and leadership of Hull City Council, which successfully bid for Hull to become UK City of Culture, the support and collaboration of partners, as well as the strong community of artists that will continue to ensure it remains a vibrant cultural centre.”

The shortlisted areas will now be invited to submit a final bid by the end of September. The panel will assess the final bids from the shortlisted cities before a winner is announced in December.

The unsuccessful areas will each receive detailed feedback on their bids. Ministers and officials will also engage with them on how best they could realise their ambitions for widespread recognition for their cultural offer.

Picture shows some of those who were backing #Warrington2021 including Ben Dunne from the River Reeves Foundation, Cllr Dan Price and Culture Warrington Chair Maureen Banner


About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.


  1. WHILE this is clearly disappointing it has helped highlight that Warrington has got cultural offerings which can be built on.
    During the campaign it was clear there are still plenty of people who are negative about their home town. Negative thoughts create negative outcomes – positive thoughts create positive ones. Let’s all work together to make Warrington a great town with city ambitions.

  2. “………Warrington has got cultural offerings which can be built on.” That just about sums it up Gary! Anything of heritage / cultural value in Warrington gets demolished and built on! So not surprising that there are plenty of people who are presently negative about their home town.
    Nobody was fooled into believing this ‘City of Culture’ bid was anything other than to give the town some kind of ‘distinctive’ identity for a later bid for “City” status.
    Quote, Dan Price, “Warrington’s initial bid submission was founded on the borough’s rich industrial heritage, with themes focusing on its development and regeneration, while embracing its unique location, character and traditions.”
    What’s left of the town’s ‘rich industrial heritage’? except for the Cabinet Works, (now proposed as an ‘area of development’) and a few filthy, polluting factories, for which there are plans to hide / disguise prior to building housing estates alongside them.
    “Themes focusing on it’s development and regeneration, while embracing its unique location…” highlight the real motivations behind the bid – a selling point for growth and mass development with the destruction of our last green fields.
    The supposed reference to the wire industry in the design of the grossly ugly new car park would not be in the least convincing of any interest in the town’s history or culture – it more likely threw a monstrous ‘spanner’ in the works!
    As for ‘character and tradition’, – the ‘character’ of the town has been destroyed by the continued demolition of our heritage buildings and the erection of ugly, cheapo, tin-pot-tack. The so called ‘regeneration’ of the town centre will result in more grossly ugly buildings to completely overshadow the last neglected remnants of our once fine & exceedingly distinct heritage.
    The ‘City of Culture’ bid never stood a hope in hell’s chance of being successful!
    As for the proposed bid for “City” Status – the key to winning is ‘Distinctiveness’ – for a town whose regeneration plans were refused the support of CABE – applying for an award for ‘distinctiveness’ will achieve nothing but countrywide ridicule!

  3. It is wrong to say the differing of views and opinions on the merits or otherwise of the City of Culture bid should just amount positive versus negative thoughts. Inevitably in a town without a local press willing to challenge the behaviour of our administration’s behaviour on so many contentious issues, there will have been the usual sprinkling of social media trolls venting their spleens on this issue. But there were also a number realists who expressed reasoned objections to the bid with well founded supporting argument.

  4. Let’s hope this decision will give the “culture cravers” in WBC and its many guises time to properly consider their actions in future. They should start by rethinking their intention to slap a “greenhouse” on the town centre library. Increasingly the first and last resort of inept cultural improvers, the “greenhouse” will contribute zilch architecturally to one of the few remaining original buildings in the town; it will ruin it. And the proposal to make it yet another Hub merely confirms the level of cultural input from our council.

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