IT is the city that gave the world JB Priestley, David Hockney and Dynamo.
Now Bradford has become the first city in Yorkshire to bid to host the Great Exhibition of the North, a two-month spectacular to showcase the best of art, culture and design in the North of England to national and international audiences.
The Bradford team said it wants to promote the city to the bid committee as “an ambitious, confident and forward-looking place with a young and diverse population, strong business community, vibrant arts and cultural scene, great transport connections and excellent quality of life”.
The Great Northern Exhibition was first mooted in the 2014 Autumn Statement, with towns and cities across the North East, North West and Yorkshire invited to submit proposals to stage the show in summer 2018.
The event is part of the Government’s flagship Northern Powerhouse initiative to help rebalance the UK economy and will celebrate the great creative and cultural sectors across the North to help boost the economy in the region.
The Government has promised to contribute £5 million towards the exhibition itself and a further £15 million into a legacy fund to attract further cultural investment in the Northern Powerhouse.
“Bradford has extraordinary strengths and these deserve more recognition.”
Susan Hinchliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said: “The renaissance underway in our proud city makes Bradford the perfect place to host the Great Exhibition of the North.”
Kersten England, chief executive of Bradford Council since summer 2015, said: “Bradford has extraordinary strengths and these deserve more recognition.
“The city is at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse and Bradford’s many successes in recent years should inspire everyone to be bold and confident about the future of the North of England.”
The bid has heavyweight backing, Shelagh O’Neill, who was project director for the multi-award winning City Park water feature, having been appointed to lead the team. She will be supported by Clare Morrow, the former chairwoman of tourist agency Welcome to Yorkshire, who will act as an advisor. The team will likely strongly play up the city’s proud cultural legacy given it is home to several landmark venues including National Media Museum, City Hall, St George’s Hall and City Park
Arup, the global engineering consultancy, is providing input on venues and logistics and creative direction.
Jim Johnson, Leeds office leader at Arup, said: “Arup is very pleased to support Bradford’s bid for such an important exhibition for the whole of the North. We’re very excited at the prospect of contributing our skills to showcase creativity and innovation from across the region in this youthful, diverse and vibrant city.”
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Bradford is a vibrant and diverse city, with a thriving arts and culture scene, and I am sure they will enter a strong bid.”
Chancellor George Osborne has asked Sir Gary Verity, the chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, to over the project and chair the board for the Great Exhibition of the North. Sir Gary was knighted for his services to tourism after bringing the Tour de France Grand Depart to Yorkshire in 2014.