A CITY of Culture roadshow will tour the district this spring, to gather people’s ideas and input for the 2025 bid.

The public consultation will take place from late spring to early summer, at town halls, community centres, colleges and other local venues, and will then be taken into schools.

Bid director Richard Shaw said the aim is for the people and organisations of Bradford district to shape the campaign for the UK City of Culture 2025 title.


The competition is run by the Department of Culture Media and Sport. Bradford will compete against other Lancashire, Medway and Southampton. Luton was in the running but has now pulled out. Northampton has delayed its bid to go for 2029 instead, and Tees Valley has put its bid on ice. Other cities and areas still have time to put forward a bid.

Yorkshire-born Mr Shaw said Bradford’s first bid will be submitted in April or May, 2021, followed by a second bid. A shortlist will be announced in the summer of 2021 and an independent panel of judges chaired by television producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond will decide who gets the title.

Bradford Council has pledged £400,000 towards the bid which, if successful, is expected to bring significant social and economic benefits to the district. The City of Culture title secured millions of pounds of investment for previous winners Londonderry (2013), Hull (2017) and Coventry (2021), acting as a catalyst for culture-led regeneration. Hull saw £676m worth of public and private investment injected into the city between 2013 and 2019.

Mr Shaw said Bradford would see “enormous” economic and social benefits - “generating new investment, bringing new jobs, resources and more visitors to the region and offering new skills and opportunities for people who live, work and study here.”

He added: “This isn’t about rewarding a city for good cultural practice. It’s about growth, potential and regeneration. If any city needs that boost in confidence, it is this one. A big part of bidding for this title is what it does for confidence. Bradford tends to hide its light under a bushel. Now is the time to get past the lazy stereotypes and write a new story.”

The Bradford Culture Trust, led by Mr Shaw, is currently is making plans for the districtwide roadshow, open to organisations and members of the public to find out how to get involved in the bid. People attending arts and cultural events in the district are urged to post about their experience on social media, tagging in @Bradford2025 with the hashtag #Bradford2025. A programme for Bradford’s bid campaign will get underway once the vision and themes are in place later this year.

“When Hull first talked about bidding, over 60per cent of its residents said they weren’t supporting it. In a recent T&A poll, over 70per cent of Bradfordians said ‘yes’ to the bid. That’s encouraging,” said Mr Shaw, whose 30-year career spans performing arts, theatre, dance, film, broadcasting, public engagement and marketing. “It’s all too easy to see this as an urban city centre project - it isn’t. It will be programmed districtwide and we want people to share the vision and join the debate.

“I’m excited to be working on a bold, distinctive, genuinely inclusive bid. We need to capture voices 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.”