The Bradford district has been crowned UK City of Culture 2025, receiving government and lottery funding to deliver a year-long programme of events in three years' time.
The Bradford bid was announced as the winning one on Tuesday night's edition of The One Show on BBC One - beating competition from other finalists County Durham, Southampton and Wrexham.
The decision has been made by a panel of cultural experts, led by TV producer Phil Redmond, who visited each area.
The Bradford district will now receive £275,000 in initial seed funding to make sure the city can hit the ground running and get the wheels in motion early as it develops its plans for 2025. This grant will help pave the way for a year of unforgettable cultural activities and events. Bradford will also be eligible for a £3 million grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Bradford district’s year of culture is set to deliver more than 1,000 new performances and events including 365 artist commissions, a series of major arts festivals and major national and international collaborations. Its themes will be rooted in the unique heritage and character of Bradford and will reveal the magic of the district that is held in its people, its ambition, and above all, its potential.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: "Congratulations to Bradford, which is a worthy winner of UK City of Culture 2025. Art and culture should be accessible to everyone and this prestigious title will help Bradford deliver unforgettable events for communities on their doorstep. There was stiff competition and I thank County Durham, Southampton and Wrexham County Borough for their excellent bids. Coventry has shown us how powerful the UK City of Culture title is at boosting investment, attracting visitors and leaving a lasting legacy for local people."
The government says Bradford's "impressive bid" drew upon its wide-range of local cultural assets including the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth, Saltaire UNESCO World Heritage Site and the National Science and Media Museum.
The city is also investing in its future cultural assets having successfully secured £20 million from the Levelling Up fund to invest in the Squire Lane Wellbeing and Enterprise Centre, and is using another £4 million DCMS grant to redevelop the Bradford Odeon into a 4,000 seat live music and entertainment venue: ‘Bradford Live’.
The judges were impressed by the ambition of Bradford’s bid which, at its centre, celebrates the place where people live, the power of diversity and aims to create new opportunities for everyone. The bid encouraged strong local engagement with artists and residents, focused on creating a sense of local pride.
Sir Phil Redmond, Chair of the Independent Advisory Panel, said: "The selection is never about whether one bid is better than another, it is more that one bid has the potential to make a bigger and deliverable impact. For 2021 we asked Coventry to raise the bar previously set by Derry-Londonderry 2013 and then raised by Hull 2017. Challenged by the pandemic, Coventry have certainly done that and I am looking forward to seeing how far the cultural bar can be raised in BD25."
Winning the title can have a hugely positive impact - attracting millions of pounds of investment, bringing in thousands of visitors and engaging the local community. Coventry, UK City of Culture 2021, used the title to transform the city through a spectacular year-long cultural programme, engaging an audience of over one million through more than 700 ticketed, un-ticketed and online events. Coventry has also trained 1,515 City Hosts who contributed almost 36,000 volunteering hours. The title also helped attract £172 million in inward investment.
Keighley-born Shanaz Gulzar, Chair of Bradford 2025, said: “This fantastic result is down to the ambition, belief and hard work of thousands of people across the district who were behind our bid. We are thrilled that Bradford district has been chosen as the next UK City of Culture. This is a huge opportunity to celebrate our extraordinary cultural heritage and for our young, diverse population – who have been so involved in shaping our bid – to become leaders and changemakers and begin a new chapter in our story. Bradford has been overlooked and underestimated for so long – it’s now our time to shine.”
West Yorkshire Mayor, Tracy Brabin, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Bradford district will be the UK’s City of Culture in 2025. No city deserves this more. The entire year will be a fitting showcase for the incredible cultural and artistic talent in this amazing city. The City of Culture judging process has also helped us to highlight the breadth of talent and the vibrant cultural offer throughout West Yorkshire. There’s no doubt we have some of the finest creative and cultural talent, events, festivals, and destinations anywhere in the UK.”
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, added: “We’re delighted that our district has been recognised in this way. Being UK City of Culture brings with it so many opportunities for people not only in terms of creativity and culture, but also for employment, attracting inward investment, boosting the local economy and opening up opportunities for young people to enhance their skills. The way that people from across the district have got behind the bid and the confidence people are now starting to show, the Bradford district has started to come to life like never before.”
Judges visited Keighley during the process, and spent time with local arts charity Keighley Creative. Creative Director Gemma Hobbs said: “This is fantastic news for the Bradford district and for Keighley. We were proud to host the 2025 City of Culture judges during their tour of the area, and they were left in no doubt that we have a vibrant and diverse community of creative people in our town and the wider district.
“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the Bradford 2025 team and playing our part in the successful bid. These are exciting times for the arts in Keighley and we’re looking forward to our creative hub and community work being at the heart of the cultural life and offer for the town. Being crowned City of Culture 2025 will shine an international spotlight on our brilliant creative communities and we’re determined to put Keighley centre stage and help our town reap the cultural and economic benefits of this accolade.”
Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley and Ilkley, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news for Keighley and Ilkley. I have been lobbying hard on this, and have met with the Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries countless times to promote our bid, and today’s result is testament to all the hard work.
"It is no surprise to see our area selected, for Keighley and Ilkley is home to some of Yorkshire’s finest tourist attractions. This includes the Bronte Parsonage Museum, Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and Ilkley Toy Museum, who all stand to play a huge role in the District of Culture celebrations. Credit must also go to groups like Keighley Creative and the Keighley Art and Film Festival, who have played a key role in securing this status.
"Past districts of culture have seen millions of pounds of investment and hundreds of jobs created, and I will work hard to ensure this is replicated across Keighley and Ilkley.”