Bidding to be City of Culture 2025 is a huge opportunity for Southampton. It’s a chance for us to celebrate the wealth of cultural activity happening in our city. We can showcase our diversity. And in doing so, we can also address the challenges the city is facing.
We want to celebrate all that Southampton has to offer, and use this journey to achieve even greater ambitions.
Southampton is home to more than a quarter of a million people. We’re a city of education, with two excellent universities. We are proud of our Premier League team, Southampton Football Club. Our port is steeped in history, with cruise liners and commercial ships bringing millions of passengers, goods, and containers through every year. And, having recently celebrated Westquay's 20th birthday, we’re the number one shopping destination in the region.
We’re pretty amazing already right? So why bid to be the City of Culture?
Because there’s so much to gain! Hull was awarded the prestigious title in 2017 and saw huge social and economic benefits. They saw £300 million added to their tourism market, and almost £17 million added to their local economy. Companies saw an uplift in takings, with over half of businesses based in the centre reporting a positive impact.
Southampton’s bid, if successful, will be forward-thinking and look to deliver a similar economic and social impact.
The bid follows significant investment in the cultural infrastructure of the city. In 2018, we opened the new Cultural Headquarter and purpose-built venue for visual arts, theatre and film where you’ll find City Eye, John Hansard Gallery, Solent Showcase Gallery and much more. These venues join the long-established Mayflower Theatre, our City Art Gallery and many more well-loved Southampton locales involved in creating cultural activity in the city.
"I'm so proud to be an Ambassador of Southampton's bid to be UK City of Culture.
"I love the city and its diversity and am passionate about making a difference. I see this as a huge opportunity to use culture as a way of overcoming some of the city's issues, childhood obesity is far higher than we would want and I want to use my passion for cooking to help address this. By working together we can bring communities together and achieve so much."
- Shelina Permalloo, Southampton born TV chef, cookery author and restauranteur
The bid will be overseen and managed by the Southampton Cultural Development Trust, which is in the process of changing its name to Southampton2025 Trust. The trust is an external body and has a range of organisations represented as trustees. These are:
The current members of the trust are:
Cllr Satvir Kaur (Chair of Trust – Southampton City Council)
Professor Julie Hall (Trustee - Solent University)
Tim Keeping (Trustee – GO! Southampton)
Cllr Sue Hollick (Trustee –Southampton City Council)
Anna-Marie O’Neill (Trustee - University of Southampton)
The trust has made two key appointments for the team. They will lead the day-to-day delivery of the bid and its associated programme:
Claire Whitaker OBE - Bid Director
Gemma Nichols - Commercial Director
The trust are taking the lead within Southampton, and they will submit the final bid of behalf of the city.