By Chris Young | LDRS

Becoming the 2025 City of Culture would “put rocket fuel in Bradford’s tank” – a new report has claimed.

“Culture is Our Plan” is a document that will plan how the District’s cultural sector will grow over the next decade – a period that could see Bradford become City of Culture part way through.

The strategy says that before the COVID pandemic the cultural sector was the fastest growing sector of the UK’s economy, but that work needed to be done to boost Bradford’s cultural offer, and make sure all its residents have access to it.

The strategy will be discussed by members of Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee at a meeting on Tuesday when members will be told “the District is at a tipping point regarding culture and in turn, the way it is perceived and its ability to compete as a major UK city.”

Bradford is bidding to become the UK City of Culture in 2025, and the report says that winning this accolade would be a huge boost to the District.

But even if Bradford is not awarded the title, Councillors will be told that the cultural plan would help the District’s cultural offer be more “evenly distributed” across the entire population.

The strategy is being developed by the Bradford Cultural Place Partnership, funded by Bradford Council and Arts Council England. It is expected to be launched in March.
A report going to the committee, which will meet online, says: “Half way along the lifetime of the plan we aim to become the UK City of Culture 2025.

“Winning this designation would put rocket fuel in our tank and accelerate us faster into a better future.

“But whether we win that accolade or not, “Culture is Our Plan” will stand, and should be the guide for us into a better, more creative and more successful Bradford for everyone.”

The report points out that while Bradford does have eleven “National Portfolio Organisations” supported by the Arts Council, this is a relatively low number compared to other major cities.

Despite being the fifth largest local authority by population in England, Arts Council England investment is ranked only 78th out of 180 authorities.

The report adds: “There is no major orchestra here, and no theatre company on the scale of Sheffield Crucible or Leeds Playhouse.”

The arts and cultural sector has been devastated by the COVID pandemic, and preparing for the return of concerts, theatre, festivals, exhibitions and other cultural events will be a major focus once life starts returning to pre-pandemic normality.

The report adds: “Recovery from COVID will define much of the sectors work for the next 12-18 months and this will be reflected in the final plan, however we have taken the decision not to let the impact of COVID overshadow the forward-looking nature of the vision or ambitions.

“The youngest place in the UK will use its energy and creativity to show the whole country what Bradford can be.

“We will reimagine the whole of Bradford district as a cultural space – our homes, our mills, hills, streets, markets, moors and parks. We recognise that our cultural life is everywhere and in everyone and is vital to our wellbeing, education and sense of
pride in where we live.

“We will build on our existing cultural assets, valuing them, enhancing them and creating and delivering plans to revitalise our public realm and transform our nighttime economy.”