September 14th, 2012 | Tags: Derry, Londonderry, UK City of Culture,

Welcome to Derry, the first UK City of Culture

In July 2012 Derry, also known as Londonderry, made history by being named the first ever UK City of Culture for 2013. The city will celebrate its culture and all that it is proud of with local residents and visitors for a year. Derry's nomination to be the UK’s first City of Culture, which it will remain until 2014, has already filled the city with great excitement. It is hoped that this will go a long way towards affirming peace in the region, helping to consign the past troubles to history. The new chapter unfolding for Derry may well leave a positive legacy for the whole city that will last for many years to come. Plans for the year long celebrations are underway and already a preview programme has been issued.

History of scheme

The UK City of Culture scheme has been developed to mirror the European Union’s Capital of Culture scheme, which Liverpool was nominated to be in 2008. The success of Liverpool’s nomination, in terms of the positive economic and social impact it had on the city, was the reason the Department for Culture, Media and Sport took the decision to introduce a similar scheme to the UK. It is expected that the nominated city will receive an economic boost similar to what Liverpool got in 2008.

Another proposal is that the nominated city will have the prospect of hosting big cultural events such as the Turner Prize, Brit Awards, Man Booker Prize and the Sterling Prize. Back in 2009, a working group was set up to consider the working structure of the scheme and also the nominations for the first UK City of Culture. They decided that the prize should be awarded every four years and the city that wins the nomination would hold the title for a year.

The working group was lead by Phil Redmond, the famous television writer and producer. They produced a report that suggested the City of Culture should stage important cultural events, but that these would be decided on a case-by-case basis. The events to be considered may include well-known highlights of the cultural year, including events produced by the BBC, the Poetry Book Society, the UK Film Council, the Tate, VisitEngland, VisitBritain, the Museums Association, the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, Channel 4, and the Arts Council England.

The first City of Culture

Fourteen cities applied to be the UK’s first City of Culture, with four cities being shortlisted: Birmingham, Derry, Norwich and Sheffield. In 2009 the then Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw announced the winner of the UK City of Culture – to the joy of people of Derry. The Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness commented that the award was "a precious gift for the peacemakers” in Northern Ireland. "This is when the real work begins," he said. "I don't see this as something that's only going to revolve around 2013. This is a project for us that will last for something like five to 10 years … I think there's a huge opportunity now for us to move forward and make sure that, particularly areas that are socially disadvantaged, gain the fruits of this accolade."

The next UK City of Culture

The competition for the next UK City of Culture is already hotting up with the cities of Aberdeen, Derby and Stoke-on-Trent having already thrown their hats into the ring. With so much to gain it’s no wonder these cities all want to be the UK’s City of Culture 2017.

City pics