The UK Government today announced the launch of the latest round of the UK City of Culture competition. Medway has been developing its bid for over a year and is poised to show the judges why it should be the UK’s next City of Culture in 2025, with the area preparing to submit its full bid in January 2022.
Following the launch of Coventry’s UK City of Culture year on 15th May 2021, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport unveiled the bidding schedule for the fourth UK City of Culture title, with the winner due to be named in Spring 2022.
Over the past year, Medway’s bid has been developed by people across the area, with school children, elderly residents, business people and faith groups among the thousands of people who have expressed their ideas. As the race kicks off, everyone across the local area is invited to have a say in an opportunity that would transform Medway’s future and bring about positive outcomes across the towns and peninsula.
Jatin Patel, Co-Chair of the Medway 2025 Trustees and Creative Director at local fashion studio Kalikas Armour comments “From Zandra Rhodes, Charles Dickens and Pete Tong, Medway has always been the home to people who see the world differently and are not afraid express themselves. We’re innovators, inventors and ‘ideas people’ here. You can see that in our cultural community, the businesses that operate here and in the cutting-edge research that takes place here. As home to the Royal Engineers, a former Navy town, a place where one on five people used to work at the Dockyard, we understand things happen when people pull together. That’s exactly what Medway is doing now, we have a vision for our future that goes way beyond 2025.”
Being City of Culture would bring Medway alive in a celebration of the people, creativity and history that makes the area unique as well as delivering positive outcomes for local people and places. 95% of the population of previous title holder Hull took part over the course of the year and Coventry’s 2021 City of Culture year saw millions in investment made across public spaces and the city centre, described by one local Councillor as the biggest city centre revamp in his lifetime.
Local resident and foster parent Sharon Jackson comments “Medway has always had a lot to say for itself, we’re a bit gobby here but that’s our strength. I think people are surprised we’re in the running to be City of Culture, Medway hasn’t always had the best reputation but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot to be proud of. We don’t have to be like other places to be City of Culture, we can do this our way, it’s about real culture for real people. Why shouldn’t we be City of Culture?”
The bid is responding to the challenges of the pandemic and promises to deliver a boost to local businesses and tourist economy in Medway. The effects of greater footfall are expected to be felt by businesses across the area, in Hull in 2017 businesses took on more staff and extended their opening hours.
Richard Morsley, Chief Executive at Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, comments: “Medway has world class history and connections across Europe and the globe. The Historic Dockyard Chatham is a major national historical asset and being the UK’s City of Culture would bring visitors here from across the country and beyond to visit, stay and spend money in our local economy. In the 1980s the closure of the Dockyard saw 24% of the locals unemployed. Since then, the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust has reinvented the site as a thriving heritage attraction, commercial and residential business community and university campus. The story of the Dockyard is Medway’s story. Medway’s history is one of reinvention, and our City of Culture bid is the next chapter of that story.”
Medway’s City of Culture bid aims to boost the area’s residents, businesses, students and projects. Following its City of Culture year in 2017, Hull benefited from:
- A significant rise in local pride (with 71% of residents speaking positively about their local area)
- An increase of visitors to the area (with over 6 million visitors heading to Hull during its stint as City of Culture
- Growth in employment opportunities for locals (with more than 800 jobs created across Hull from 2013-16)
- An improvement to the wellbeing of people who lived in the area (with 8 in 10 participants saying that being involved in the campaign made them feel happier)
To find out more about Medway’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025, follow the bid on social media (@Medway2025) or explore the website.