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Dundee aims to win UK City of Culture prize with festivals bid

Dundee Lord Provost Bob Duncan in Albert Square with the citys bid.
Dundee Lord Provost Bob Duncan in Albert Square with the citys bid.

Dundee’s bid to become the UK’s City of Culture in 2017 has been signed, sealed and delivered.

The city now faces a nervous two-month wait to see if it has reached the competition’s shortlist stage.

Four proposed week-long themed festivals celebrating the city’s “cultural assets” are at the heart of Dundee’s bid to capture the prize.

Around 150 people celebrated the bid’s official submission to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport at an event at the McManus, including local piper Craig Weir who played a piece written for the occasion.

Led by the Dundee Partnership, the bid highlights the city’s cultural sector including the upcoming V&A at Dundee.

Director of Leisure and Communities Stewart Murdoch said: “The cover image of the bid is trying to show the city in all its glory and the voice of the people.

“Amongst the things we have to cover are our area, our vision, the cultural and artistic strengths of Dundee, the economic and tourism impact.

“The programme has been structured around four robust themes, which people said they thought were Dundee’s greatest cultural assests.

“These would be four week-long festivals, which we hope schools and cultural organisations will all get behind curating.

“These are celebrations of the river, the environment, which would take place in the summer, our people and heritage, and lastly, the light, which would recognise the artists who have come to Dundee and settled here.

“The idea is that these are themes can be built upon by the people in Dundee and would create four weeks of high-points that would coincidde with holiday periods.”

The festivals, which would include outside concerts and performances, would run alongside a year of events including favourites, such as the Flower and Food Festival.

The 30-page bid will go through an assessment process before the three or four shortlisted cities are announced in June. The winner will be crowned in the autumn.

Dundee is up against 10 competitors for the UK City of Culture 2017 title, including Aberdeen, Hull and a joint bid by Portsmouth and Southampton.

Mr Murdoch said: “Dundee is a city that has a real social case that will benefit from the bid. One third of our population are still in the poorest 15% in Scotland.

“This has got to be a bid for them. There has to be a festival of community events, which will target areas which are characterised by having poverty and unemployment.

“If the bid is to mean something, it has to mean something to people in those communities as well as those areas that are better off.”

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