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Calls for next UK city of culture

Press Association logoPress Association 15/01/2017 Dave Higgens

The competition to become UK City of Culture 2021 is underway as Hull continues to celebrate its 2017 tenure with the reopening of its main art gallery following a STG5 million ($A8.1 million) refurbishment.

A number of cities have already started campaigns to be the 2021 choice, including early favourites Coventry and Cardiff, as well as Stoke-on-Trent, Perth, Paisley, Sunderland and Hereford.

Minister for digital and culture Matt Hancock launched the competition at the Ferens Art Gallery, in Hull, which reopened to the public on Friday.

"The UK City of Culture is not only a prestigious title but, as Hull has shown, it is a great opportunity to use culture as a catalyst for economic and social regeneration," he said.

"It showcases the unique identity of our cities, helps boost tourism, and raises the profile of art and culture.

"I urge local authorities and partnerships across the whole UK to consider entering the competition and I hope to see plenty of ambitious, exciting and innovative bids for 2021."

Cities interested in submitting bids to be UK City of Culture 2021 need to register with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport by the end of February and final bids must be submitted by April 28.

The winner will be announced in Hull in December.

The idea of having a UK City of Culture was developed after Liverpool's success as the European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Hull is the second city to be given UK City of Culture status, following Derry-Londonderry in 2013.

The city was selected amid some surprise in 2013 from a shortlist that included Dundee, Leicester and Swansea Bay.

Phil Redmond, chair of the independent panel which is advising on the choice of the 2021 city, said: "Having been on the journey from Liverpool 2008, Derry-Londonderry 2013 and now Hull 2017, I am delighted other cities will have the opportunity to bid and build upon the award for 2021."

The Ferens Art Gallery is reopening in the middle of Hull after a STG5.2 million refurbishment with the unveiling of a rare 14th-century panel painting by Pietro Lorenzetti, following a four-year conservation project.

The Lorenzetti will be shown alongside early Italian Renaissance masterpieces on loan from national partners.

The Turner Prize will be presented at the gallery at the end of the year.

The opening is the latest event in the Hull 2017 program, which opened with a fireworks display on New Year's Day and a week-long city-wide installation - Made in Hull - which attracted more than 300,000 visitors.

The celebratory start to the year continued at the weekend when Nayan Kulkarni's Blade - a 75m Hull-manufactured wind turbine blade - was lowered into Queen Victoria Square, outside the Ferens Art Gallery.

Daren Hale, deputy leader of Hull City Council, said: "Winning UK City of Culture has generated an enormous sense of local pride among local people and a renewed sense of confidence and self-belief in what the city can achieve.

"This started during the bidding process and is why I would encourage other councils to consider bidding to be the next UK City of Culture."

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