City of Culture 2017: Swansea Bay on shortlist of four
Swansea Bay has been named on the shortlist of four locations in the running to become the UK City of Culture 2017.
Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire launched their collective bid for the title in March.
Dundee, Hull and Leicester are also in the race whose winner will be known in November.
Michael Sheen, Russell T Davies, Swansea City and the Ospreys are behind the bid.
Swansea council leader David Phillips said: "The bid reflects our vision for Swansea Bay to become a hotbed of culture by focussing on the area's strengths, including our rich industrial heritage, thriving contemporary arts, award-winning scenery and world-class sports teams.
"We'll now work in close partnership with our neighbouring councils, as well as local arts and cultural organisations, to further strengthen the bid to ensure we have every chance of securing the title later this year.
"Landing this prestigious status would raise Swansea Bay's profile across the UK and lead to more jobs and investment."
If Swansea Bay is successful, the programme for 2017 would include a festival for unsigned musicians, a high-tech history laboratory on the historic Hafod Copperworks site, and a children's pageant of drama, song, dance and design.
The British Lions rugby squad for the 2017 tour to New Zealand could also be announced in Swansea Bay.
Coun Nick Bradley, Swansea cabinet member for regeneration, said: "Being shortlisted shows just how far have come as a cultural destination - it's a huge vote of confidence in our communities and ambition.
"The entire region can now embrace and back the bid because we've got so much to be proud of."
The UK City of Culture initiative is administered by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
It was started following the success of Liverpool as European City of Culture in 2008.
The chosen area will succeed Londonderry, which is UK City of Culture 2013 and the first place to be awarded the title.
Making the announcement on Wednesday morning, UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: "I want to congratulate the four shortlisted cities who have made it this far.
"It brings together communities, encourages economic growth, and inspires social change and the shortlisted cities should be very proud of the bids they have put together."
The bids have been considered by an independent panel chaired by Phil Redmond, creator of popular TV series including Grange Hill, Brookside and Hollyoaks.
"It was incredibly difficult to decide on a shortlist as all the bids recognised the power of culture to bring about social change and offered innovative and interesting programmes," he said.
'Regeneration of the people'
"In the end the panel thought the four short listed cities offered plans that were ambitious, realistic and would not only deliver for their communities, but would also maintain the momentum created around the success of Derry-Londonderry."
When Swansea Bay's bid was announced, retired Swansea University lecturer and historian Peter Stead - who was on the panel which chose Liverpool as City of Culture - said Swansea had a good chance.
"This isn't culture in the elite sense," he added. "This is the regeneration of the people living in Swansea."
He said the area had built up to the bid for a number of years, and the success of Swansea City in the Premier League meant the area was being talked about around the world.