Competition Seeking the Next UK City of Culture

A competition to find the UK’s ‘City of Culture’ for 2025 has opened to bids. The winning city will become a focus for national attention and could host high-profile media events.

Launched in 2009, the UK City of Culture is a UK-wide programme run by Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), which invites places across the UK to set out their vision for culture-led regeneration.

Derry/Londonderry was the inaugural UK City of Culture 2013 and the competition has been run every four years since. The winners from 2017, Coventry, are the current holders of the award and began their year of culture in May 2021.

The competition is now open to bids for the UK City of Culture 2025.

The UK City of Culture competition is a key part of the DCMS’s broader offer to level up opportunity across the UK – using culture as the catalyst for investment in places to drive economic growth and regeneration, promoting social cohesion and instilling pride in places and making them more attractive to live and work in and visit.

The UK City of Culture 2025 will need to:

  • Articulate a vision which uses culture to transform a place through social, cultural and economic regeneration, making it more attractive to live, work, visit and invest in
  • Drive growth
  • Innovate
  • Reach out across the UK and abroad
  • Maximise the social benefits of investing in culture
  • Maximise the legacy, and have capacity to deliver
  • Embed environmental sustainability

Applicants are encouraged to include activities encompassing a broad definition of culture and its creative industries. This includes but is not limited to: visual arts, literature; music; theatre; dance; combined arts; architecture; crafts; design; heritage and the historic and natural environment; museums and galleries; libraries and archives; film, broadcasting and media; video games; animation, visual and special effects; photography, and publishing.

Bids are expected from partnerships relating to a UK city or area.  Partnerships will need to include the relevant local authorities.

Lead applicants must be a formally constituted organisation but they do not need to be the local authority.

The winning city will be provided with the title of UK City of Culture for the year, and can also hope to reap economic and social benefits and general kudos from hosting a year-long high-profile event.

For the first time, the 2025 competition will award grants of £40,000 to up to six bids able to demonstrate at the EOI stage that they meet the core criteria and show potential to make a significant contribution to the aims and objectives of the UK City of Culture programme. These successful longlisted places will then have four months to develop a robust economic analysis, a credible delivery and governance plan, particularly for any capital project plans, undertake research and consultation, and gather data.

Expressions of interest should be submitted by 19 July 2021.