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City of Culture Explained


Creative Kernow, along with one of our creative economy support programmes Screen Cornwall, are proud to partner with Cornwall 2025 – Leading From the Edge, our region’s bid to be ‘City of Culture’ for 2025.


What is City of Culture?

City of Culture is a competition run once every four years by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. The winner of the title benefits from additional investment to go towards creating jobs, attracting more visitors, and broadening the region’s cultural offering. The competition aims to demonstrate how culture can support communities by acting as the creative catalyst for change.

The word ‘culture’ here doesn’t just refer to art galleries and theatre. It includes a broad spectrum of creative industries that includes sectors like publishing, architecture, tech and digital. In 2018, these creative industries in the UK contributed more than £111bn to the British economy. They matter.

(Read Cornwall Council’s Creative Manifesto published by the Culture and Creative Economy team in 2021.)


Why has Cornwall entered?

A recent change in the rules has meant towns and wider areas (rather than just cities) can apply for the City of Culture title, so Cornwall has taken the opportunity. Cornwall is keen to prove that rural regions outside urban centres can create amazing talent and high quality cultural output. The bid will also provide an opportunity to change perceptions of Cornwall by opening visitors’ eyes to the real social concerns surrounding the deprivation that exists in the region as a result of low wages and a high cost of living.


What’s in Cornwall’s bid?

Cornwall’s bid is entitled Cornwall 2025 – Leading from the Edge, and it has outlined how it would use culture to grow and strengthen the county, as well as recover from the impact of the pandemic. By focusing on People, Place and Planet, it attempts to address the climate emergency by using culture and creativity to connect communities together in Cornwall with audiences across the world – including the millions of Cornish diaspora.

Cornwall is also pitching a ‘Global Britain’ year-long celebration of Cornish culture to excite, inspire, and explore global issues.


Who’s behind the bid?

Cornwall’s bid is being led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a business-led body with a remit to strengthen the local economy, create jobs and improve skills. Bid partners include the Eden Project, Tate St Ives, Falmouth University, and us at Creative Kernow and Screen Cornwall. Screen Cornwall has already produced a series of brilliant short videos for Cornwall 2025 that features a selection of creative and cultural practitioners based in Cornwall which you can view here.

The bid has the backing of creative champions across Cornwall and beyond, ranging from actor and author Dawn French, to lyricist Sir Tim Rice, Olympic rower Helen Glover, broadcaster Petroc Trelawney and Director of Tate, Maria Balshaw.


How will Cornwall benefit?

The investment received if Cornwall were to win City of Culture would be a huge boost and help bring Cornwall in line with the rest of the UK with the creation of more opportunities and a raising of aspirations.

Previous winners have been Derry-Londonderry in 2013, Hull in 2017 and Coventry in 2021, with the government claiming that Coventry is proving to be a blueprint for demonstrating how culture can drive social and economic recovery, having benefitted from City of Culture investment.

The City of Culture title would generate £119 million of direct benefit to Cornwall’s economy and create almost 500 jobs, while continuing to grow Cornwall’s burgeoning creative industries sector. The long-term economic benefits could run into hundreds of millions of pounds, some £870 million in total.

If Cornwall wins, the impact will be felt by everyone. Many associated projects will engage with primary schools and young people, host large scale events that we can attend in person or engage with digitally, and produce cultural ‘moments’ in every parish across the region.


What happens next?

With the bid submitted and shortlisting to the final four from eight taking place this month (March 2022), we now need to show how much we want to be proclaimed City of Culture for 2025!

Keep liking and sharing on social media (@cornwall2025) to show your support and help keep the buzz going as Cornwall’s bid is scrutinised against the other five regions and cities.

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