For the last two years across Lancashire, 12 district councils, 2 unitary authorities, Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and a whole host of other influential, entrepreneurial and creative Lancastrians have worked together to put together the Lancashire 2025 City of Culture Bid.
Lancashire 2025 would have led to us attracting millions in inward investment, we would have created thousands of new jobs, our pride in where we live would have swelled, we would have reduced the cultural and economic inequalities that exist in our county and thousands of children would have been involved. City of Culture would have been an event remembered for generations.
But the new conservative administration at Lancashire County Council has just dumped the proposal.
And from what I’ve been told they didn’t even bother to inform all those people who have worked incredibly hard, and collaboratively, to bring their vision to fruition.
UK City of Culture is a competition run by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport every four years. Previous winners experienced a major boost in tourism as people travelled to visit all of the incredible events that the teams had organised. Areas also benefited from an increase in investors opening new businesses and more opportunities to support the local community, not just for the year but with a legacy for the future.
The conservative’s decision is devastating for all those people who knew how transformative it would have been to bring the City of Culture to our county – and it’s a kick in the teeth for Lancashire as a whole.
Arts Council funding is significantly lower in Lancashire than in comparable counties and cities. There is an inequality in terms of quantity and scale of major arts organisations in Lancashire. People outside Lancashire do not see us as a county rich in arts and culture, whereas we know we have impacted the world stage for decades but we need help in promoting what we have.
The conservatives need to reverse this decision now.