Portsmouth starts its bid to become a UK city of culture

BIG DRAW HMS Victory is one of city's highlights
BIG DRAW HMS Victory is one of city's highlights

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PORTSMOUTH has taken the first step on a journey to become UK City of Culture in 2017.

The council sent its expression of interest letter in yesterday, and now has until the end of April to lodge an official bid.

Council director of regeneration Kathy Wadsworth revealed yesterday that the letter has been sent in jointly by Portsmouth and Southampton city councils.

Ms Wadsworth was speaking at an event run by the Destination group of the Shaping the Future of Portsmouth organisation, which is seeking to promote culture and tourism in the city.

She said: ‘We’ve got two months to put in a good bid, and it needs to be a bid that is put in jointly by us and by the private sector working with us.’

Ms Wadsworth said the decision to link up with Southampton was to give the bid extra weight.

This year is the first year the UK City of Culture programme has been run. It was inspired by the European Capitals of Culture programme which Liverpool won for 2008.

Portsmouth and Southampton linked up to put in a bid for that in 2009, coming up with the PS I Love You campaign, but did not win the title.

This time round, the initial bids will be put in by April 30, and a short list will be announced in the summer.

Ms Wadsworth said: ‘If we make it on to that list, that’s when we really have to put a lot of effort in.

‘They’ll let us know if we’re successful by November.

‘I think we’ve got a good chance, and winning this really would change people’s perception of Portsmouth.

‘The problem is going to be what to focus on, because we’ve got so much.

‘Are we a literary city, or is it about Victory and our other ships?’

The Destination conference and workshop was the first of its kind, and was held at the Guildhall yesterday.

Its aims are to bring together all those who work in the cultural and tourism industries in Portsmouth to find out how the city can better celebrate both its cultural heritage and its cultural future.

The long term aim is a plan to boost tourism by 50 per cent in 2020, which would mean 12.6m visitors to the city each year.

The group’s chairman, Cheryl Buggy, said: ‘It’s such an important part of the economic wellbeing of the city and we need find out how to support and promote all the good stuff happening in the city.’