Southampton to bid for 2025 City of Culture

City is first to throw hat in ring

Southampton has become the first city to make a bid for the next UK City of Culture due in 2025.

City council leader Simon Letts said the bid would mean that the changes in the city would be “recognised on a national level”. Southampton had already made a “down payment" on the cultural investment needed to win a bid by supporting the new £30 million Studio 144 arts complex.

He added that a bid for the 2025 award will be led by the city's young people - not civil servants or "artists in their forties and fifties."

Letts also claimed that the city had been given a green light by Arts Council England Darren Henley, who was reported to have told city culture boss Councillor Satvir Kaur that "the time is right" for a bid.He told the Echo newspaper. "We have waited to choose the optimum moment. When that was confirmed to us that now was the time to go by the man himself that gave us a real push.

Now director of Southampton Cultural Trust James Gough has been asked to write a feasibility study.

City culture boss Cllr Satvir Kaur said she was "excited" about the bid and added: " It's about rising participation and the people that traditionally don't feel the art world is for them - the whole idea is to change that perception."

A spokesperson for Arts Council England said: "We would not make comment on specific support for city of culture bids but only support in broader terms."

A leaked report says that lack of "robust project management" helped the overspend on Studio 144, which opened in February, to rise by £16 millionAn audit report also said that the initial budget of £13m for the arts complex could eventually reach £34m. The report said: "A shorter project lifetime, continuity in staff and a robust project management may well have enabled the authority to effectively manage the financial risks". Simon Letts said he accepted the auditor's points and capital projects were now under better control.


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