Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon bid for UK City of Culture for 2025 falls short - but hopes it will leave lasting legacy

The Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon bid for UK City of Culture for 2025 has not made it through to the final stage of the competition, it is revealed tonight.

Since winning the coveted title in 2021, Coventry has seen more than £172m invested in funding music concerts and the UK’s first permanent immersive digital art gallery as well as a further £500m for the city’s regeneration.

For the first time this year, the eight longlisted winners received a £40,000 grant to strengthen their applications, which included Cornwall, Derby, Stirling and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon (ABC) Borough Council.

The four successful cities going through to the next stage are Bradford, County Durham, Southampton and Wrexham County Borough.

Diane Dodds MLA recently hosted the ABC Council UK City of Culture Bid in the Long Gallery at Stormont

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said last night: “I’m hugely grateful to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon for their superb bid to be the UK City of Culture 2025. I hope their involvement in the process leaves a lasting cultural legacy in this fantastic region to help bring increased tourism, spark people’s creativity and create jobs.”

Despite the disappointment, the council says it is pledging to ensure that arts, culture and heritage remain firmly in its spotlight, and that it will continue to shine a light on the arts and cultural groups, heritage attractions and activities across the borough.

As part of the bidding process, the council established extensive cultural regeneration plans to attract investment into the area.

Lord Mayor, Alderman Glenn Barr, said: “Although we are disappointed, we are thrilled to have been part of this exciting journey. By bidding for City of Culture we have experienced so much positivity locally, nationally and internationally, that I am confident the vision behind ABC25 [the council’s bid] will progress into the future.

“As a council, we are committed to securing further investment to continue our bold ambition for the borough - to profile and celebrate our people, our place and our story on an international stage.

“I want to thank the bid team and everyone who supported us on this journey - the organisations, the businesses, our partners, and of course our amazing community. I am confident our borough will achieve many great things in the future – we have much to look forward to and I know our story will prevail.”

The shortlist was compiled from a record group of 20 that had initially registered bids to take over the title.

The expert advisory panel, chaired by Sir Phil Redmond, will visit the four shortlisted places before making their final recommendation in May.

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