Dynamo, Adil Rashid and Bottega Veneta's Bradford-born boss throw weight behind Bradford City of Culture 2025 plan

International superstars from the world of magic, cricket, theatre and fashion have thrown their weight behind Bradford's bid to become the 2025 City of Culture.

This weekend, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden kicked off bidding for the title, which it is hoped will also act to help areas recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Whichever city or group of towns wins the competition, taking over from Coventry, will need a “strong and unique vision for their future growth”, according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

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And they must show how celebrating local heritage and culture can bring communities together, it added.

City Park in Bradford (Pic: Visit Bradford)

And a number of superstars from the city have backed the bid, including magician Dynamo (real name Stephen Frayne) and England cricketer Adil Rashid.

Dynamo said: "Bradford is where my heart is and has always been a hidden gem; a place filled with magicand wonderful people. That’s why I’m so proud to back this bid for Bradford to become the UK’s next City of Culture in 2025. Having seen first hand the hard work, passion and commitment of the local community, I really believe that this is our time.”

Adil Rashid, who was made aFreeman of the City last year for his role in England’s stunning Cricket World Cup triumph, added: “When people come together to play sport, or watch it, that shared experience is amazing and it stays with you. It’s the same with cultural events and I am one hundred per cent behind the team, proud to put my name to Bradford’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2025.”

The bid has also been backed by Daniel Lee, the Bradford-born creative director of fashion brand Bottega Veneta. Considered to be one of the most influential figures in the fashion world, he added: “I‘m immensely proud to stand by Bradford on its journey to becoming UK City of Culture 2025. Bradford shaped who I am, it is a city full of unique creative talent, and unifying cultural experiences, which should be shared with the world."

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Madani Younis, who forged his theatre career in Bradford and is now chief executive producer at The Shed in New York, added: “The confidence that Bradford gave me is why I stay true to that city today. That city for me is the best of who we are as a country and that is not said enough, it represents the potential of what our country is and can be.

"It is our differences that we celebrate, it’s our differences that make us whole, it’s our differences that make this moment of declaring our bid to be UK City of Culture, so tangible. That Bradford will bid to become a City of Culture to me is no surprise. It’s about time.”

The bid will be aiming to make the most of the four superstars, as well as the long history of cultural heritage from the area, which includes the Brontë family, David Hockney and JB Priestley.

It will be managed by Bradford Culture Company alongside the Bradford Council and the University of Bradford.

Shanaz Gulzar, chair of Bradford 2025 and lifetime Keighley resident, said: “Bradford’s time is now. With the confirmation from Government that the next UK City of Culture competition has started, we have a unique opportunity to promote the distinctive qualities of this district to national audiences and to claim the UK City of Culture title for Bradford in 2025.

“Bradford is ambitious in its thinking and hungry for success. We have the most youthful population of all cities competing for the title; we have world-class cultural organisations, a distinguished cultural history, passionate audiences and an extraordinary and progressive community of diverse artists, performers, writers and creative entrepreneurs with outstanding credentials who will help secure the designation for Bradford.

"We look forward to working with people across the district as we present our case to Government that this title rightfully belongs to us in 2025.”

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, added: “We very much welcome the announcement that the UK City of Culture contest is now properly underway. Bradford Council is fully committed to competing for the 2025 UK City of Culture title and backing our district’s Cultural Sector who are putting in a huge amount of work to achieve this accolade.

"I want to thank Shanaz Gulzar, Bradford’s City of Culture chair and everyone who’s involved in continuing to work to promote the district’s bid during this really challenging time.

“Our district is young, diverse, entrepreneurial and we want to play our full part in the life of the nation: the UK City of Culture title provides a platform to do this. Now, more than ever, as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and look to build for the future, investing in our cultural fabric is essential. There can be no regeneration without culture.

"Our bid will form a major part of the council’s future planning and will have a major role to play in bringing together our communities, lifting our spirits, and providing a boost to our economy.”