Wakefield Civic Society has confirmed it is backing the bid for Wakefield to be named UK City of Culture 2025.
In a letter dated 9th July 2021 which will be included with the bid papers submitted by the Council, Civic Society President Kevin Trickett MBE set out the Society’s rationale for offering its backing. Addressed to Sir Phil Redmond, the Chair of the Expert Advisory Panel for the UK City of Culture Programme, the letter says:
I am writing to offer the Society’s wholehearted support for the bid to name Wakefield as City of Culture 2025.
To many, Wakefield is like a best kept secret – its talents hidden, even among some local residents. But for those of us who know, it is actually home to a diverse and burgeoning group of creative and cultural individuals, businesses and organisations and we think it’s time that secret was shared more widely. We want to tell the rest of the UK and, indeed, the world, about what Wakefield has to offer!
Wakefield, both as the city and the wider district of which it is part, has a fascinating history going back well over 1,000 years. That history provides a rich source of stories, ideas and inspiration for local artists. It also shapes the character of our citizens who are undeniably proud of this shared heritage.
Increasingly, local people from all walks of life have been able to explore their creativity and enjoy cultural activities via a myriad cultural organisations, events and programmes, and organisations and businesses are beginning to recognise the potential on our doorstep.
While we have long-established cultural venues such as the Theatre Royal Wakefield, the National Trust’s Nostell Priory, the Hepworth Wakefield gallery, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the National Coal Mining Museum for England, to name just a few, newer organisations are moving here too: the success of Production Park at South Kirkby and the opening next year of Tileyard North at the Wakefield Waterfront are but two examples.
Wakefield is also increasingly recognised as a place to learn about the performing arts. We have Theatre Royal’s Performance Academy, Wakefield College’s Performing Arts Centre and also CAPA College, the latter soon to move into new, purpose-built premises.
Meanwhile, we have a community of many individuals and independent arts organisations (as well as volunteer-led groups such as the Society), all contributing to the city’s growing creative and cultural economy. Working quietly away, often unassuming, but yet delivering incredible results.
There is, however, much more we could do.
Wakefield today feels like a city ‘on the cusp’, emerging from its cocoon as it transitions into a city that has both the confidence and vision to engage on the national and even international stage. We want to demonstrate to others that we are a great city with a great offer; a great place in which to live, to work, to relax and to do business. And, of course, we believe that Wakefield is a great place to visit! At the Society, we often show Wakefield off to visitors from outside the area and they are always impressed – once we manage to coax them to come and see for themselves.
Just submitting a bid to become UK City of Culture 2025 will bring local people together from across the district. We want to go even further though and show others from outside the area what we have; we want to shout our stories from the rooftops. We believe that winning the bid will be transformational!
We support Wakefield City of Culture 2025.