by Rory Sheehan
HAVING narrowly lost out to Bradford earlier this year in the UK Government competition to become City of Culture for 2025, Wrexham Council’s executive board has voted to bid again to try and bring ‘UK City of Culture’ status to the city in 2029.last July.
At this month’s Wrexham Council Employment, Business and Investment Scrutiny committee meeting, Cllr Hugh Jones, lead member for the environment, will provide an update on the work being carried out on the next bid, in preparation for applications opening in 2025. Members of the committee will be asked to back the report’s recommendations at the meeting which takes place next Wednesday, September 7.
An executive summary of the report which will be read by members ahead of the meeting states that the council has received £125,000 from the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) as one of the 2025 runners up.
The money needs to be spent by March 2023, and the report outlines where this money is being spent.
An amount of £50,000 has been earmarked for the development of a supported Community Commissioning project.
Expressions of interest will be requested by October 2022, from community groups, businesses, and third sector organisations to apply for financial support to deliver a project, event or activity that shows positive support, celebrates Wrexham’s unique culture and “raises awareness of the journey” required to support the City of Culture 2029 bid.
The deadline for the delivery of all activities and projects is March 31 next year. Eight £5,000 commissions will be issued, with an additional £10,000 set aside to work with local community partners to support projects on a smaller scale.
The report adds: “All activities must show the development of cultural partnerships which will aid the progression of Wrexham as a cultural destination and support our bid for 2029.
A total of £12,500 has been put aside for the establishment of an “independent, skilled and diverse” Community and Cultural Trust to lead the ongoing project to be established by late next year / early 2024.
The report adds: “It is envisaged that the Board will lead on the development of years of culture with programmes in 2023, 2025, 2027 leading up to the year of 2029.”
A further £50,000 will be used for the development of links with international and national bodies to support the delivery of two signature events before the end of next March.
The report states:
“We are targeting the Eisteddfod, comedy and FOCUS Wales as these have the highest potential for delivery in this area in such a short timescale. At this stage we need to leave flexibility about which one, given we will have to do work with each to see which one can come forward with a deliverable proposal.”
Lastly, £12,500 is being put towards research into the development of a ‘UK Capital of Play’ strategy.
The report adds:
“This will be led by an advisory panel of local, national and international play professionals. Community wide play activities, development of play skills and increasing volunteer and employment opportunities, share knowledge skills and aim to develop a ‘Play Blueprint’ nationally to establish play as a core community offer for young people.”
There are also plans to establish a shadow City of Culture Board this autumn, which will oversee and steer the work for Wrexham City of Culture until the establishment of a new Cultural and Community Trust anticipated to be in late 2023 / Early 2024.
Joanna Swash of Moneypenny has already been appointed as interim chair and the Shadow Board will consist of eight to 12 people with a range of skills. Being a Shadow Board member does not guarantee appointment to the full independent Board.