Last Thursday, the hopes of thousands of people in the city were dashed with a curmudgeonly flick of a high commissioner’s pen.
The European Commission informed us —along with peers in Leeds, Nottingham, Milton Keynes, Belfast and Derry — because of the seemingly never-ending mess of Brexit, we could now not be awarded the title of Capital of Culture 2023.
There has been the obligatory political Mexican stand-off since but it is important to remember what has been physically lost here — nothing.
To paraphrase JFK (who, shockingly for a president, never used Twitter) we choose to support culture and the arts, not because it is easy, but because it is the right thing to do.
The late commander-in-chief was, of course, talking about landing a man on the moon, but the parallels can be drawn.
Dundee’s regeneration, dubbed by some a cultural renaissance, has never been about a title.
Yes, it would have been nice to be able to pop a few additional words on the bottom of a poster, or brag to our cousins in Aberdeen about being a capital of something that isn’t unwanted but ultimately, doesn’t mean too much in the grand scheme of things.
The bid team were due to present on Tuesday and a lot of blood, sweat and tears — not to mention cash — went in to producing something which could have been spectacular. They have been robbed and, another for Boris to add to his list, deserve an explanation and apology from those at the top who maintained our leaving the EU would pose no risk.
But there was still every chance Dundee would not have been shortlisted. Then what would we have done? Allow the V&A to wash into the sea? Of course not, because this is not about titles and it’s not about winning — it’s more important than that. It’s about standing up and shouting: “Look at us. Look what we have created. Look at what we’ve supported and look at what we strive to do.”
Dundee has a rich history of being just that little bit different. We have always prided ourselves on not being just another city.
We should continue in that vein by refusing to let a title, or lack thereof, determine whether or not we have achieved anything with our cultural ambitions.
The foundations laid as a result of the disappeared bid have not floated off down the Tay. If strong enough, and are backed with enough hard cash, then metaphorical structures far fancier than the V&A can be constructed.
Being Capital of Culture for the year 2023 would have been nice, but it would be better to create Dundee: Capital of Culture for life.