Dundee’s unique status as a UNESCO City of Design could be of help it secure the European Capital of Culture title in 2023, according to one of the masterminds behind the Danish city of Aarhus’ successful bid.
Theresa Blegvad is the city convener for culture in Aarhus, the Danish city which is one of the two current European Capitals of Culture along with Paphos in Cyprus.
She said Dundee’s bid must must be “bold and visionary” to win the coveted title, which could be worth millions of pounds to the city’s economy.
She will visit Dundee on Thursday to discuss how Aarhus put together its successful bit at a special stakeholder event in the West Park Conference Centre.
Ms Blegvad said Dundee’s status as a UNESCO City of Design may be key in winning the title.
Ms Blegvad said: “Aarhus was going through a transformation when we applied for the title, much like Dundee is now.
“We consciously focused our bid on highlighting everything the city had to offer and the developments to become more modern and international. Things have continued to blossom since then.
“The change was already happening, but we seized on the unconscious to create momentum and purpose and drive more change.”
Ms Blegvad will welcome members of the Dundee bid to Aarhus in June for a three-day fact-finding mission.
She said: “Dundee must be bold and visionary. It should leverage its UNESCO status as a City of Design, highlight the city’s many features and attributes, work with nearby cities if possible and seek support from local businesses.
“Aarhus worked with neighbouring cities to strengthen our bid and secure the title. We wanted to share the experience with everyone and ensure everyone benefited.”
Aarhus will host four “mega” events attracting at least 40,000 people per event and expects to welcome up to 10 million overnight visitors during the course of the year.
More than 451 million Danish Krone – around £50 million – is being spent over a five-year period to ensure the year-long festival is successful.
Ms Blegvad heads up the Nordic office of Dundee-based learning and development company Insights and as been asked to serve on the advisory board for Dundee’s 2023 bid.
She said: “Insights is an innovative business that believes culture is critical for development. That’s why we got behind the Aarhus bid, and now the Dundee bid.”
Insights Chief Executive Andy Lothian said: “We’re absolutely committed to the city of Dundee.
“Dundee is undergoing a transformation and local businesses, like Insights, have a responsibility to help this city grow and thrive.”
He added: “We are excited that Theresa has agreed to support our efforts in the city by sharing her successful Aarhus experience.”
Each year two cities are granted the title Capital of Culture. Cities in the UK and Hungary will be chosen in 2023.
UK cities wishing to compete for the title must submit their completed biuds by October 27. So far Dundee, Leeds and Milton Keynes have all confirmed they are applying.
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