South West Wales

City of Culture: Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot bid

The Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea
Image caption The three counties of Swansea Bay are competing against 11 other places for the title of UK City of Culture in 2017

Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot are putting in a joint bid to become the UK City of Culture in 2017.

The three counties are competing under the name of Swansea Bay to host the title, which aims to creates economic and social benefits.

It is up against 10 other UK places, including Aberdeen, Chester, Dundee, Hull, Leicester and Plymouth.

The UK City of Culture was started following the success of Liverpool as European City of Culture in 2008.

The chosen place will succeed Londonderry, which is the City of Culture for 2013 and the first place to be awarded the title.

Other places bidding for the 2017 title are East Kent - covering Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Thanet - Hastings and Bexhill on Sea, Portsmouth and Southampton and Southend on Sea.

Historian Peter Stead, who is a retired Swansea University lecturer and was on the panel which chose Liverpool as City of Culture, said he was excited by Swansea Bay's bid.

He said that Liverpool had had many visitors as a result of the title and that it staged art and culture that was accessible to all.

"This isn't culture in the elite sense," he said. "This is the regeneration of the people living in Swansea."

Football success

He said the area had been building up to the bid for a number of years, and the "enormous international success" of Premier League football side Swansea City was exciting.

"Swansea's being talked about around the world. People are coming to Swansea every day.

"We see Koreans and Danes and people from Africa coming to Swansea because they have heard of the Swans and I think the Swansea area has realised this is something that can be built on.

"Of course there's the Dylan Thomas centenary next year when Swansea is going to be quite central to the Welsh celebrations of that and Swansea has always been a literary city.

"All those things seem to be coming together and looking at the list of cities, Swansea has a good chance."

Announcing the list of contenders, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: "The competition brings together communities and creates economic and social benefits and I am pleased to see so many local authorities and different partners coming together."

The bids will be considered by an independent panel, chaired by Phil Redmond, creator of popular TV series including Grange Hill, Brookside and Hollyoaks, and a shortlist will be announced in June.

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