BRADFORD’S drive to be UK City of Culture 2025 has taken a major step forward with the appointment of a bid director.

Taking on the role is Yorkshire-born Richard Shaw, who has held prominent positions at leading arts and media organisations including the British Film Institute, National Theatre, English National Ballet and Lion Television.

His 30-year career has spanned performing arts, theatre, dance, film, broadcasting and independent television production.

Mr Shaw said: “The bid for the City of Culture title is a huge opportunity for Bradford to shout proudly about its extraordinary cultural heritage and to celebrate the new generation of artists, musicians, writers, performers, producers, entrepreneurs and businesses that bring this great city to life today. I’m enormously excited to work on a bold, distinctive, genuinely inclusive bid. We need to capture as many voices as we have across the district to find themes and stories about Bradford, its people and its place in the UK, to make a compelling case to the judges. As Europe’s youngest city, Bradford’s young voices will be instrumental in helping to shape our vision.”

Mary Dowson, interim chairman of Bradford 2025, said: “Richard brings a wealth of national experience to help Bradford on its journey, we’re delighted to welcome him to Team Bradford. With the enthusiastic support of our steering group and the backing of strategic partners including Bradford Council, the University of Bradford and a wide range of regional arts and community organisations, we will continue to build on our early momentum. We plan to recruit further local expertise and begin a programme of community engagement in early 2020 to get the whole district working together on the bid.”

Mr Shaw will head up the Bradford Culture Trust bid executive team, working with the steering group which includes Alex Croft, creative director of Kala Sangam; Anne McNeill, director of Impressions Gallery; Kamran Rashid, director of 30 Chapel Street arts, enterprise and tech hub; and artist Nabeelah Hafeez. Mr Shaw will also work with the recently-formed Cultural Place Partnership which includes live arts company The Brick Box; University of Bradford and Bradford College.

Kamran Rashid said: “The city has so many of the ingredients to make a great socially inclusive City of Culture. Richard will strengthen our national links and help us build the case that Bradford deserves this bid.”

City of Culture status has had a transformational impact on previous host cities, securing millions of pounds of investment and acting as a catalyst for culture-led regeneration. Bradford Council has pledged £400,000 towards the bid. Bradford will compete against cities and areas including Lancashire, Medway, Southampton and Tees Valley.

Added Mr Shaw: “The economic and social benefits of winning are enormous; generating new investment, bringing new jobs, resources and more visitors and offering new skills and opportunities for people who live, work and study here. Just last week Hull revealed that £676m worth of new public and private investment has been injected into the city between 2013 and 2019 - an incredible legacy from its City of Culture year. There’s no reason why Bradford can’t reap the same benefits, if not more.”

The Bradford Culture Trust currently is planning a district-wide roadshow in spring/summer 2020 for the public to find out how to get involved. To help back the bid, people attending arts and cultural events in the district are encouraged to post about their experience on social media, tagging in @Bradford2025 using #Bradford2025.

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