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What you need to know about the Hereford 2021 City of Culture bid

"Hereford is at a tipping point..." declares the press release, "winning City of Culture would turbo-charge existing cultural activity, help underpin success for the hugely ambitious new university as well as many other initiative across the city; driving economic growth, raising the profile of Hereford on the national and international map and making it more attractive to its visitors and new residents."

It's inspiring stuff from the team running Hereford's City of Culture 2021 bid, a movement that's been rumbling but not moving very fast since the application was submitted in 2014

The bid is officially launched today (July 6). That means a new website, a call to action, details on how to get more involved, and 'I back the bid' posters primed for display. 

To be taken seriously the bid will need to capture all corners of Herefordshire culture, from punk gigs and indie food festivals to choral music and traditional crafts. To succeed, it'll need a groundswell of public support.

Described as "a first of its kind", the application is a 'one big family' bid being led by a consortium of cultural organisations and businesses. It will include towns and villages from across the county as well as the city, and with everyone pulling in the same direction could see a strong application submitted to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in Easter 2017. 

"There has been an overwhelming response to Hereford going for City of Culture 2021," said Roger Morgan, chairman of Hereford 2021.

"If nothing else it is bringing us all together as one county.

"The next few months will be crucial to make sure that our bid is unique, presenting what Herefordshire would do if we won the City of Culture status."

The benefits to the economy and tourism of the city. Infographic by Herefordshire design agency Dash&Dot, www.dashandot.co.uk.

'Key messages' from the City of Culture 2021 team

  1. Winning City of Culture would transform the fortunes of the whole region not just the city at the heart of the bid.
  1. Look beyond its lovely landscape and historic housing and Herefordshire is an area with real pockets of deprivation and disadvantage, in the bottom 5% of local authorities in terms of average wage, and haemorrhaging its young people.
  1. The bid is led by a dynamic coalition of cultural organisations and businesses working together to tackle these challenges and improve lives through arts and cultural regeneration.
  1. We are committed, creative, and competitive - this area can already boast of some outstanding artistic and cultural activity and there are real opportunities through educational and cultural development to attract students, new businesses and young professionals.
  1. Hereford is at a tipping point; winning City of Culture would turbo-charge existing cultural activity, help underpin success for the hugely ambitious new university NMiTE as well as many other initiative across the city; drive economic growth, raising the profile of Hereford on the national and international map and making it more attractive to its visitors and new residents.
  1. We want to redraw the Mappa Mundi with Herefordshire writ large.

..................

There are elephants in the room. You can not - and should not - ignore the fact Herefordshire Council has cut its support for arts commissioning funding, or is still floating unpleasant plans to scale back library services in Leominster, Ross, Belmont, Bromyard, Kington and Ledbury.

If in doubt that Herefordshire stands a chance, however, consider this: Hull won the title of Crap Town in 2003. It's now on the receiving end of a £13m government investment thanks to its City of Cuture 2017 status.

I said Hull was the worst town in the UK in my Crap Towns book, but now I’m queuing to visit (The Independent)

The City of Culture title, awarded every four years, won't go to a region where culture is already thriving, where it's already well-funded and accessible to all. That was recognised last month when BBC coverage positively raised the profile of Herefordshire's bid, even if it did focus on Cider, Crafts and Cattle. 

Herefordshire is fiercely proud of those attributes, but has much more to offer - not least the Beefy Boys-generation of investment that's seen half a dozen new bars, restaurants and pubs open in Hereford city in the past 12 months.

The City of Culture team is now asking people to spread the word, and show some love on social media. You can find out more about getting involved at www.herefordcityofculture.org, where you can also download the 'I back the bid' poster.

You can follow the bid on Facebook and Twitter, @Hereford2021.

Backing Hereford City of Culture 2021: Ian Archer from The Courtyard, Roger Morgan (Chairman) and Abigail Appleton from Hereford College of Arts.

Backing Hereford City of Culture 2021: Ian Archer from The Courtyard, Roger Morgan (Chairman) and Abigail Appleton from Hereford College of Arts.

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Image credits:

Infographic: dashandot.co.uk

This feature was priginally published on June 27, 2016

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