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Unesco culture festival could springboard Dundee onto global stage, says council leader

John Alexander, Leader of Dundee City Council with the Dundee 2023 bid brochure.
John Alexander, Leader of Dundee City Council with the Dundee 2023 bid brochure.

A bid to place Dundee at the centre of a worldwide culture festival could see the city springboard onto the global stage, council leader John Alexander has claimed.

Dundee has been backed by Unesco, a body responsible for coordinating international cooperation, to become the central hub of a new arts and music festival spanning 72 countries.

It followed efforts by organisers behind the city’s European Capital of Culture 2023 bid to carry on a programme of events that were set to be announced just days before the entire project was scuppered by the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

Mr Alexander insisted Dundee is a “city on the up” and must continue to seek new opportunities, including outside Europe.

“When it comes to culture, boundaries are artificial and culture crosses borders, languages and demographics, so we should be global in our outlook,” he said.

“We have dusted off the disappointment, refocused our energies and sought out those opportunities. We have a set of proposals, the energy and the vehicle of delivery – now we need to make it a reality.”

Along with the other UK cities who bid for the 2023 Capital of Culture crown, Dundee has put forward an ambitious package of proposals that could see key projects taken forward in an attempt to provide new links for tourism and culture.

However, Mr Alexander believes Dundee’s Unesco City of Design status could provide a unique opportunity to tap into a global brand and deliver showcase events, creating new jobs and delivering key investment throughout the city.

He added: “This isn’t simply about hosting events though, this will derive direct benefits to everyone in Dundee.

“It will provide global promotion of the city, it’s culture and businesses, the potential for increased investment and employment, and an exciting programme of events with things that will appeal to Dundonians old and young, and of all different incomes and backgrounds.”

Stewart Murdoch, managing director of Leisure and Culture Dundee, revealed earlier this month that delegates had been in talks with officials from the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to secure funding for the ambitious scheme.

A DCMS spokesperson said: “All five candidate cities were invited to meet with the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism to discuss their cultural plans following the European Commission’s decision.

“We are continuing to have discussions with all five cities as they seek to fulfil their own cultural ambitions.”

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