Despite Brexit, the British government has launched a contest for UK cities interested in becoming European Capital of Culture 2023. So far, the cities that have announced their wish to get the title - which two European cities share every year - include Leeds, Dundee and Milton Keynes.
The UK was selected to host the cultural initiative in 2023 before the country voted to leave the European Union in June, 2016. Since the city that hosts the events is designated by the European Union, it is not yet known whether the EU will allow the UK host the cultural event after triggering Article 50. Nevertheless, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's announcement suggests it is proceeding with the hope that a UK city will host the event in 2023. DCMS blog
The city selected to become the European Capital of Culture organises various cultural events that can lead to increased investment, more jobs and a boost to the local economy. The title can also generate considerable cultural and social benefits, and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city's image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale.
According to a study conducted in 2004 for the European Commission, known as the “Palmer report”, demonstrated that becoming the European Capital of Culture served as a catalyst for the cultural development and the transformation of the city.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: “Celebrating the cultural heritage and innovation in Britain's cities is part of our plan for an outward-looking, globally-minded and dynamic country.
“The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe. We want that relationship to reflect the kind of mature, co-operative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy.”
His statement has its basis in the fact non-EU cities have held the title in the past - namely, Istanbul in 2010, Stavanger in Norway in 2008 and Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2000.
The UK is no stranger to the title. On the contrary, British cities have previously hosted the cultural initiative twice before - in Glasgow in 1990 and Liverpool in 2008.
In case the UK is allowed to partake in the cultural event, the chosen British city will share the title with a city in Hungary during 2023.
San Sebastian in Spain and Wroclaw in Poland were 2016's cultural capitals, while Aarhus in Denmark and Paphos in Cyprus will share the title in 2017.
The European Capital of Culture scheme is unrelated to the UK City of Culture.
In 2015, Milton Keynes announced its intention to take part in the competition, but no branding or design appointments has been announced yet.
In light of the Brexit vote, a representative of Milton Keynes Council says: “It is early days and it will be a while yet before we really know the impact of Brexit on the Capital of Culture titles. The work we're doing in Milton Keynes is essential to building a strong cultural feature and as such we will continue preparing the sector and the borough as a cultural hotspot.”
After beginning its work on the V&A Museum of Design, Dundee has now launched its bid and Dundee City Council leader, councillor Ken Guild, says: “Dundee's bid will reflect the character of the city and its people... The energy and enthusiasm of the universities and our cultural sector will ensure that we put forward a strong case for the city.”
A cross-EU panel of experts will select the winning UK city to hold the title and the winner will be announced towards the end of 2018.