Worcester, the quintessentially English city where Sir Edward Elgar lived and wrote many of his finest works, is considering making a bid to become City of Culture 2021.
The City of Culture programme is led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The programme uses culture and creativity to transform communities and help grow artistic talent, and designates a City of Culture every four years.
Following the first award to Liverpool, Derry-Londonderry (2013) and Hull (2017) have also been awarded City of Culture status.
“Worcester’s past, present and future are steeped in rich and varied cultural traditions - we are totally committed to supporting the arts and creating more opportunities for local, national and international audiences to experience them in our city,” says Cllr Adrian Gregson, Leader of Worcester City Council.
“Worcester has a proven track record of delivering high quality, well-attended events. The full programme of activities planned for 2014 and 2015 would provide a strong platform from which to launch our bid to be City of Culture 2021.”
There is a strong choral tradition in Worcester today, which hosts the nationally acclaimed Three Choirs festival every three years, in turn with Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Last year, the city hosted the first Worcester International Festival for Young Singers, attracting choirs from across the globe.
The city is also famous for Royal Worcester porcelain, which was made and painted here for over 250 years. Many of the factory’s potters and artists still live locally.
As well as Worcester’s magnificent Cathedral which was founded in 680, the city also boasts some striking modern architecture including The Hive (Europe’s first university-public library and history centre, which opened in 2012) and the University of Worcester Arena. This recent addition caters for disability by design, and enables real inclusion for a wide variety of sporting, drama and artistic activities.
The wider Worcestershire county has a strong literary tradition: C.S. Lewis and Tolkien both wrote extensively in nearby Malvern. George Bernard Shaw and J.M. Barry had premieres and productions of their works at the Malvern Theatre, which is still thriving and previews many West End productions today.
Worcester has also received critical acclaim from top chefs including Jamie Oliver, who recently visited the iconic Lea & Perrins factory in the city where its Worcestershire sauce is still manufactured today.
Finally, Worcester has a special place in Civil War history, as both the first and last battles of these wars were fought in the city.
Worcester City councillors will discuss working with partners on the potential for a city of culture bid at a Cabinet meeting on 15 April 2014.
Programmes are expected to appeal to a wide range of audiences and to increase participation in cultural activities as well as contributing to economic growth, regeneration, community cohesion, health and well-being.
If the Cabinet vote in favour of developing a bid, it will be developed in partnership with other relevant organisations including Worcestershire County Council, Destination Worcestershire and the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership.