Meet the man leading Bradford's bid to be UK City of Culture in 2025

In these extremely uncertain times, it is good to know that Bradford’s bid to become UK City of Culture in 2025 is in safe hands.
Richard Shaw, director of Bradford 2025, who is leading the citys bid to become UK City of Culture. (Bruce Rollinson).Richard Shaw, director of Bradford 2025, who is leading the citys bid to become UK City of Culture. (Bruce Rollinson).
Richard Shaw, director of Bradford 2025, who is leading the citys bid to become UK City of Culture. (Bruce Rollinson).

Richard Shaw, who took up the post of director in November last year, is surely the right person for the job. A hugely experienced arts and media professional, he has previously held senior positions at several of the UK’s leading cultural organisations including the National Theatre, the British Film Institute and English National Ballet. And after moving back to his home county, Leeds-born Shaw hit the ground running.

“I spent a couple of months burning a lot of shoe leather,” he says. “I met as many people as I could both in the city and the wider district. I had five or six appointments a day and I guess I must have met around 400 people, listening to their ambitions for the bid. Then lockdown happened but not before we had set up a much wider consultation programme with the diverse groups and communities in Bradford.”

Read More
'It's time to shout' - Why Bradford has high hopes for City of Culture bid
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Shaw was impressed by Bradford Council’s rapid response to the Covid-19 crisis in relation to arts and culture. In just three weeks they made money available to 55 projects across the district with grants of up to £1,000. “It was such a great example of the city’s authentic generosity of spirit and it made me think if that’s what Bradford can do in lockdown, imagine what it can do afterwards.”

Like everyone involved in the arts at the moment, Shaw has concerns about what the cultural landscape might look like once we emerge from lockdown.

“I think there will be parts of the industry that will thrive, others that will take a very long time to come back from it, some of them might not,” he says. Overall, however, he feels positive about the future. “I have enormous optimism that the arts and culture sector is creative enough and far-sighted enough to respond to the challenges that are coming.”

There is no doubt that being named UK City of Culture has huge benefits. In our region we already have a shining example of that. Hull (where Shaw went to University) held the title in 2017 and has since seen a tremendous boost both economically and in the way it is perceived externally. The other areas and cities that Bradford is competing with for the 2025 award are Southampton, Gloucester, Medway, Lancashire and the Tees Valley.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The winner will be announced in December 2021 and there are plenty of reasons why Bradford is in a strong position.

“Part of the bid is to communicate the distinctive quality of a city. Bradford has an incredibly rich cultural heritage and such an independent and collaborative spirit which is very empowering. It is ambitious in its thinking, hungry for success,” says Shaw. “It also has a radical edge with social justice and community power at the forefront.”

There are few places more deserving – this could be Bradford’s time to shine.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected]. Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson


Related topics: