Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the focus of the competition this time around was “levelling up access to culture across the country” as the longlisted entries in the race were revealed.
Some 20 areas put bids forward but only Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Bradford, Cornwall, County Durham, Derby, Southampton, Stirling and Wrexham County Borough will battle it out to become UK City of Culture 2025, taking over the accolade from Coventry.
Wakefield was among those who applied but has missed out.
For the first time, those on the longlist will be able to access £40,000 each to develop their full application ahead of a shortlist being announced early next year.
Ms Dorries said: “Winning the UK City of Culture competition has a hugely positive impact on an area, driving investment, creating jobs, and highlighting that culture is for everyone, regardless of their background.
“This year’s focus is on levelling up access to culture across the country and making sure there is a legacy that continues for generations to come. I look forward to seeing what this brilliant longlist has in store as they continue in the competition.”
All the bids were asked to include information on how they intended to use culture to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as how they would use culture to grow and strengthen their local area.
Wakefield Council leader Denise Jeffery said: “Naturally, we’re disappointed that Wakefield’s bid has missed out, but we are also incredibly proud. This has inspired the start of something truly special for our district.
“Bidding for this title was bold, brave and ambitious and has sparked new and exciting conversations and collaborations. I’d like to thank all of our residents, businesses and partners who have given us their support so far.
“Wakefield has so many stories to experience and we will use this journey to bring long-term benefits to everyone across the district.”
Coun Jeffery offered her “warmest congratulations” to Bradford on progressing through to the next stage of the contest, and said she’d be “cheering them on” in their efforts to take the title.
Sir Phil Redmond, chairman of the City of Culture expert advisory panel, said: “The expressions of interest stage was introduced as an opportunity to encourage many more places to experience the benefit of coming together to define and share a cultural vision for their areas, and what the longlist demonstrates is the range and depth of cultural ambition across the whole of the UK.
“Also for the first time, each longlisted city will receive financial support to help them develop their vision. Each is different. Each has its own story to tell. All share a common aim: to demonstrate how culture can act as the creative catalyst for change. I am really looking forward to seeing how each story develops.”
Ms Dorries will also host a roundtable with all unsuccessful bidders to discuss how best they can be supported.