Leicester's UK City of Culture bid 'lacked ambition'

Lord Richard Attenborough and Sir David Attenborough, The National Space Centre The Attenborough brothers have been honoured by the University of Leicester, while the National Space Centre shows off the work of the university

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Leicester's bid to become the UK City of Culture in 2017 "lacked slightly in ambition and innovation".

In a feedback report, the Independent Advisory Panel for the competition also said the city's application was "relatively Leicester focused".

Geoff Rowe, chair of Leicester's City of Culture bid team, said it would be "foolish not to listen to the feedback".

Leicester competed against Swansea Bay, Hull and Dundee. Hull won the title.

The panel also felt Leicester's bid and case was "not quite far enough advanced at this stage" and there were not enough international links to award it the next UK City of Culture title.

Mr Rowe said: "There's a lot of stuff in the feedback and we need to learn from that.

Other feedback points for Leicester's unsuccessful bid

  • The strong emphasis given to plurality was excellent; the panel felt that other cities could potentially be able to learn a great deal from Leicester.
  • Leicester's central location and strong accessibility gives this location a strong position on which to build.
  • The extensive research programme set out within the bid (the panel felt that this could have been given greater prominence during the presentation).
  • Some really excellent project ideas, but the panel felt Leicester relied too strongly on relatively safe ideas e.g. Diwali, festivals.

"One of the points was that it was very Leicester focused and yes it was.

"It was deliberately very Leicester focused and we worked very closely with the county and the districts to put together a really strong bid that celebrated what Leicester has to offer."

'Cultural excellence'

On Leicester's strong points the panel thought the quality of the presentation by the team added "credibility and really brought aspects of the bid to life".

Other positives was the city's track record in "delivering cultural excellence", the level of commitment including funding and the support of both the city and county councils, as well as the amount of community engagement in the bid.

Leicester's Mayor Peter Soulsby had said the city did not "need to wait until 2017 to show ourselves off" following the announcement in November that it lost out to Hull.

The UK Government chooses a new destination every four years, with the aim of helping tourism and the economy.

UK's first City of Culture title was awarded to Derry Londonderry for 2013, beating Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield.

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