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UK City of Culture


Dundee, Hull, Leicester or Swansea Bay, who would get your vote for 2017’s UK City of Culture?

There is a month to go until the big announcement: who will become UK City of Culture 2017? Will it be Dundee, Hull, Leicester or Swansea Bay?

What is the UK City of Culture?

The UK City of Culture is an award given to a city of the United Kingdom to transform communities through creativity and to help grow artistic talent. Awarded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the programme was inspired by Liverpool’s status as European Capital of Culture in 2008.  The current holder is Derry, Londonderry.

It is hoped that this award will attract visitors to the city, boosting tourism and supporting the local economy. It should increase media interest and bring community members together. The culture award will also increase levels of professional artistic collaboration which sees people working together on creative projects.


In 2008, Liverpool won the title of the European Capital of Culture – an award it shared with Stavanger, Norway. During this year, Liverpool also hosted its Biennial festival of contemporary art. It is the interest of these cultural events which inspired the creation of the UK City of Culture programme.

During the Biennial festival, GT decorations helped in the production of the Pavilions Project which saw the construction of three large-scale creative spaces in Kirkdale, Garston and Kensington. All three collaborated with artists and architects from across the world.

The Rotunda in Kirkdale was created with help from landscape architects GROSS Max and artificial plants sourced from GT Decorations. This saw the conversion of derelict land into a community garden of two parts, a Folly with vertical gardens and ‘Bar code’ garden strips. GT Decorations provided a multi-textured environment of plants for maximum coverage using ferns, ivy garlands, morning glory and lily shaped flower heads.

The Rotunda opened to great praise on the 28th April 2008 despite the poor weather.


The Shortlist

Dundee: Dundee is Scotland’s fourth largest city and is home to the University of Dundee. The geography of the city is dominated by The Law, an extinct volcano and the Firth of Tay in which the river Tay empties into.

Famous people from Dundee include Lorraine Kelly and Brian Cox.

In 2015, the V&A museum is set to open a Dundee branch for a reported £45 million which is set to further enrich this cultural centre.

Hull: Kingston upon Hull, frequently shortened to ‘Hull’, is located in north east England in the East Riding of Yorkshire.  Local stars include Philip Larkin and The Housemartins.

Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery has had record breaking visitor numbers and the Hull Truck Theatre is a respected national force. Hull’s bid plans for 1,500 events, 25 festivals and 12 artists’ residences during 2017 if successful.

Leicester: Leicester is a city in the East Midlands of England which lies on the River Soar on the edge of the National Forest. Leicester is home to David Attenborough and Engelbert Humperdinck.

In 2008, a £61 million project saw the construction of The Curve Theatre and in 2015 The University of Leicester will be opening a new contemporary arts venue. Leicester’s bid looks to illuminate culture with a series of festivals and events.

Swansea Bay: Set along the South Wales coast on the Bristol Channel, much of Swansea Bay is considered to be an area of outstanding beauty – including the Gower and the Blue Flag Swansea Marina. Film star Catherine Zeta Jones was born here and other stars which called it home include Dylan Thomas and Russell T Davies.

Swansea’s Glynn Vivian Art Gallery is currently undergoing a £6 million makeover and the city’s bid proposes a festival of unsigned musicians, a high-tech history laboratory and a children’s pageant of the arts.

Eleven cities in the UK entered bids to become 2017’s UK City of Culture and four contenders made the shortlist. Now you know the awards’ background and purpose, which city would you choose?


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