Thursday, 10 September 2009

Reading - City Of Culture?

Somewhat unexpectedly Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw MP has announced Reading will be included among the longlist of 29 locations vying to be the first officially designated 'UK City of Culture' in 2013.

The competition aims to repeat the success of the European version at a national level and "could host high-profile media events including the Turner Prize, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, The Brits and the RIBA Stirling Prize as part of their year in the spotlight," becoming a focus for national attention in 2013, according to the original press release.

During Parliamentary questions Secretary of State Andy Burnham MP asserted that the "broadest possible definition of city of culture, which would allow as many parts of the country as possible to join the competition".

Mr Bradshaw cited the success of Liverpool in hosting the 'European City of Culture 2008' and argued this "proves that cultural life most definitely does not begin and end within the M25" - repeating an argument made by his predecessor earlier this year.

But while the prize will garner attention for the host city and Mr Burnham originally compared it to Franklin Roosevelt's Federal Art Project, it will not recieve a penny in official funding.

BBC Berkshire reports that Reading "put itself forward as a potential candidate," but this claim is strongly questioned by vice-chair of RBC Culture & Sport Scutiny Panel, Cllr Warren Swaine, who also states that the subject wasn't even raised at a meeting of Reading's Arts Forum held only two days ago.

Cllr Swaine also wonders whether this action was properly authorised and asks what resources were put into the submission.

In a heated debate on the Reading Post article, commenters are flattered by the attention but are almost universally derisive - with so many contenders on the longlist, it is blatantly flattery intended to decieve!

The process for inclusion on the longlist of contenders will remain open until October 16th and further bids are expected to join the like of Chorley, Barnsley and Hull.

Oranjepan asks:
Is Labour is cynically attempting to create 'feel-good stories' in key constituencies ahead of the final conference season before a general election, or is this a serious initiative?

Meanwhile Reading is also taking part in the National Heritage Open Days initiative, which is designed to enable locals and visitors to discover the 'hidden gems' on our doorsteps.

Rob White is glad that Reading is taking part as he notes that Reading is "sometimes accused of lacking history and culture".

Find out more at Heritage Open Days.


Update: Linda Fort sparks a debate by quoting RBC executive member for culture and sport, Cllr Graeme Hoskins, who said that although famous people like Kate Winslet and Ricky Gervais are closely associated with the town, "it is not just about the big names."

Elizabeth Thomas notes Reading came in at 36th in The Idler's list of crap towns.

1 comment:

  1. I ought to point out that I'm no longer the vice-chair of the Culture & Sport Scrutiny Panel, although I am still on the committee. I am however still the Lib Dem Rep on the Arts Forum.


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