Aberdeen in fresh bid to be crowned City of Culture

Aberdeen will bid for the coveted UK City of Culture status.

Senior sources in the ruling Conservative, Aberdeen Labour, independent coalition say a push for the 2025 competition will be a centrepiece of their policy document to be debated by councillors next month.

The Granite City had previously bid for the 2017 award but were told in 2013 that their application lacked a “coherent vision” and a “wow factor”.

The award instead went to Hull.

But now the local authority thinks its bid will be bolstered by the recent success of the likes of the Nuart festival, SPECTRA, the Tour series visit and other high profile cultural events.

Alongside these factors, city centre business body Aberdeen Inspired have been named as the best Business Improvement District (BID) in Europe in a glitzy awards ceremony earlier this month.

The award must be applied for many years in advance, with a total of 11 British cities and towns applying for City of Culture 2021 this year.

In March, the Press and Journal revealed that ambitious plans were being drawn up to bring the Nuart street festival back to Aberdeen for the next three years – and expand it into the city’s suburbs.

The city council and Aberdeen Inspired run a large number of festivals as varied as the Jazz Festival, SPECTRA and Look Again.

One of the key planks of the 25-year city centre masterplan is to boost culture in the city as the local authority looks to draw more tourists and diversify the economy away from oil and gas.

A high placed source in the administration said: “We felt that with our recent successes that we had to go for it this time.

“We know that previous bids have been said to be lacking so this time we want to put some serious effort and money in.

“The city is moving forward and we think we are in a better position than ever to host the city of culture.”

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, indicated that the group would support a future bid.

He said: “We are always keen to promote Aberdeen and if our partners feel there is an opportunity to submit a credible bid, then we would absolutely get behind it.

“We have been playing our part to increase the cultural offering in Aberdeen and recently brought the very successful Nuart Aberdeen festival to the city which was one of the largest street art festivals of its kind in Europe this year.

“Our popular Summer of Art programme is underway again this year and we’re looking forward to launching the Christmas Village which promises to be even better than last year and will give the city a festive offering to be proud of.

“The Nuart Aberdeen festival was a key part of our winning entry for the European BID of the Year Award, as well as our UK Innovation award, and we are in discussions to bring the festival back in 2018 and beyond.

“That’s the level of ambition that Aberdeen Inspired and many partners have in moving the city forward, based on a truly ‘Team Aberdeen’ approach.”

The proposal will be discussed at the next meeting of the full council on August 23.

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