Council considers Pembrokeshire City of Culture bid

THE CITY of St Davids, the smallest city in the UK, could soon be in the running to be named as the UK’s City of Culture for 2021.

Pembrokeshire County Council is exploring the possibility of making the bid and a report is set to go before Cabinet on Monday, February 13.

The deadline for registering an interest in applying is at the end of this month.

It had not yet been possible to discuss the matter with all the key partners but steps are in place to do so as soon as possible.

Although any bid will have to involve the local authority, the Council’s Director of Development, Dr Steven Jones, says that St Davids City Council would be an obvious lead organisation.

The City Council is scheduled to consider the City of Culture opportunity tonight (February 6th).

Dr Jones said that initial discussions with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and partners on the Pembrokeshire Public Service Board had been ‘very supportive.’

The report says that the aim of the UK City of Culture programme is to encourage the use of culture and creativity as a catalyst for economic and social regeneration, to promote the development of new partnerships, and to encourage ambition, innovation and inspiration in cultural and creative activity.

Any area outside of London is eligible to apply. Part of the programme can also be delivered in a wider hinterland. However, bids with a strong central focus will be favoured.

In making the case for St Davids, the report states: ‘St Davids is Britain’s smallest city; it is also a spiritual, historical and cultural centre of major significance in Wales.  It is steeped in history and heritage with a remarkable asset base for its size, including for example a fine Cathedral, palace and a national gallery.

‘It has successfully hosted large-scale events such as the annual St Davids Cathedral Festival and the National Eisteddfod which came to the city in 2002.

‘St Davids and the surrounding area also benefits from a number of community and business leaders, and significant social capital from the wider community that could be brought to bear in support of an application.’

Dr Jones says that there is also a case to be made beyond St Davids, perhaps including North Pembrokeshire and as far as Fishguard.

At next week’s meeting, Cabinet Members will be asked to endorse the principle of a Stage 1 application and to begin discussions with a number of stakeholders.

The aim of the City of Culture initiative, which is administered by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is to ‘build on the success of Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture 2008, which had significant social and economic benefits for the area’.

Derry, Londonderry was given the first title of City of Culture in 2013 and it was given to Kingston upon Hull for 2017.