Some time ago Bradford was in the running to be the country’s Capital of Culture, and all kinds of benefits were envisaged as coming from the accolade in terms of raising the cultural offering of the district and improving the cultural landscape.
In the event, Bradford didn’t win, though not through lack of trying. But several years on, while Bradford might not be the first place that springs to mind when it comes to Shakespearean culture, the district is at the forefront of a new education project connected to the Bard.
Bradford Theatres have been chosen by the auspicious Royal Shakespeare Company for a three-year schools-based project, and this is to be roundly welcomed.
Shakespeare is uniquely accessible to almost everyone, even given the sometimes complex nature of his language, because at the heart of everything he wrote was, quite simply, a great story.
The project should be of huge benefit to Bradford schools, opening up the worlds of classic literature and having long-term effects which should last beyond the three-year scheme, thanks to the training of teachers to make Shakespeare accessible and relevant in our classrooms.
With the promise of performances by the RSC and a Shakespeare festival, we can also look forward to a time when the classic plays of the Bard are not just taught well in our schools, but are included on the programme of events at Bradford’s theatres for all of us to enjoy.
Bradford might have missed out on the Capital of Culture title, but allied with the City of Film designation and the cultural potential of the City Park, Bradford’s new Shakespearean connections might more than make up for that.