Stirling is one of eight areas set to be handed £40,000 each to bid to become the UK’s next City of Culture.
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 forward bids 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.
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.
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.
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.”
Dorries will also host a roundtable with all unsuccessful bidders to discuss how best they can be supported.
Scotland Office minister Iain Stewart said: “I’m particularly pleased that Stirling is in the running for this prestigious award. With its fascinating history and vibrant creative scene, it’s a strong contender for the title.
“The list of cities announced today is testament to the outstanding creativity and culture across the UK. I look forward to seeing proposals develop as Stirling strives to bring the UK City of Culture to Scotland for the first time.”