UK City of Culture judges impressed by Bradford's 'real hunger' for the title

The judges who will decide whether Bradford should become the 2025 UK City of Culture are impressed that people in the city have shown “a real hunger” for the title.

The 10-person panel of judges, led by Sir Phil Redmond, took a guided tour of Bradford today, to find out more about the city’s heritage, its exciting redevelopment projects and its diverse communities.

They are visiting the other three locations – County Durham, Southampton and Wrexham County Borough – this week and will then provide a recommendation so the Government can choose a winner by the end of the month.

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Sir Phil said the panel was impressed by the “very vibrant” city of Bradford and the people there who have been supporting the bid.

The 10-person panel of judges for the 2025 UK City of Culture, which is led by Sir Phil Redmond, took a guided tour of Bradford today

“There's a real hunger around for it. They've got the point that culture is a great catalyst to bring about change,” he said.

“One of the big things about the project is that it gives you a badge of authority to try things differently. It's an excuse really, to experiment and innovate, and everybody seemed to be well up for that.”

He added: “The purpose of the visit is actually to see if the place and the people match up to what's been put on paper. So far, it seems to be working very well.”

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Sir Phil, who is best known for creating TV shows Brookside and Hollyoaks, said judges were also looking to find out whether people in the city can collaborate effectively to deliver all the ambitious plans set out in their bid.

He revealed that Bradford was chosen as one of the four finalists, after 20 locations submitted bids, because judges were so impressed with the city’s ambition.

“There's this aspiration to take the youngest city, with a multi-ethnic, multi faith population, and see how they can use culture to shape the strategic future of that city with a very exciting and vibrant bid,” he said.

During today’s visit, the panel attended an event at the National Science and Media Museum, where they were welcomed by key supporters of Bradford's bid.

They then took tours of the former Bradford Odeon, which is being transformed into a 4,000 seat venue called Bradford Live, and Little Germany, where a new performance venue is being built as part of a £23m redevelopment of the area.

Judges stopped off at Kala Sangam Arts Centre, where they spoke to a range of talented local performance artists, and then were introduced to a number of faith leaders across the district, with visits to the Hindu Cultural Society and Bradford Central Mosque.

They also visited several heritage buildings, including Lister Mills in Manningham and Salts Mill in Saltaire, where they attended a lunch with more than 150 of the district’s creative, business and community leaders.

Shanaz Gulzar, Chair of Bradford 2025, said: "We tried to take the expert advisory panel on a journey, not just geographically around the district, but to discover all those things that make Bradford so unique: our heritage, our radical thinking, our boldness, our young people who are hungry for change and want to tell a different story of Bradford.

"I think we demonstrated today that not only does Bradford need the City of Culture title, but we also want it, we’re ready for it and it’s most definitely our time.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “We showcased to the judging panel today what the district has to offer – both why it needs City of Culture 2025 and how it can deliver a unique and diverse year of culture.

“It will put Bradford district on the map – bringing in more visitors, new jobs in tourism, and help revitalise the city centre evening economy as well as our towns and villages after some challenging years.”

The winner of the UK City of Culture Competition will take over from Coventry, which has held the coveted title since 2021.