Groups of towns will be able to bid to be the UK’s city of culture for the first time as the government hopes to use the competition to promote its levelling-up agenda.
The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, also hopes the competition will help areas recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Coventry is the current UK city of culture and its programme of events began this month after a four-month delay due to Covid. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said whichever city or group of towns takes over would need a “strong and unique vision for their future growth”.
Bids for the 2025 title must also show how celebrating local heritage and culture could bring communities together, as well as demonstrate how investment in culture and creativity would drive growth, it said.
As he launched the competition, Dowden said: “UK city of culture is a fantastic showcase of the huge impact culture has in towns and cities across the country. From Derry-Londonderry, to Hull and Coventry, previous winners have shown how the competition can deliver greater cultural participation, drive economic regeneration and boost local pride.
“I encourage towns and cities across the UK to put forward bids for 2025 and champion their local arts and culture scene.”
To encourage as many places as possible across the UK to bid, the government said it would offer funding of up to £40,000 to up to six longlisted places to help develop their applications.
Bids will be assessed by an independent, 11-member panel chaired by Sir Phil Redmond, the television screenwriter and creator of Brookside and Hollyoaks. The deputy chair will be Claire McColgan, the director of Liverpool city council’s cultural service.
The winning entry must show how the area will open up access to culture, and develop partnerships and celebrate links with places across the UK.
Nel Coventry there is expected to be a significant boost in visitor numbers despite the pandemic, and more than £110m in additional investment secured between 2018 e 2022. The programme of events aims to attract about 5,000 volunteers and create more than 900 lavori.