Page last updated at 17:02 GMT, Wednesday, 4 June 2003 18:02 UK

Oxford bid suffered 'image problem'

By David Fuller
BBC News Online, Oxford

We can do without Brideshead Revisited - we are a modern, forward-looking multicultural city
Robert Hutchison, Chief Executive of Oxford Inspires

Oxford's Capital of Culture chances were undermined by the city's elitist image, says the man in charge of the bid.

Robert Hutchison, Chief Executive of Oxford Inspires, told BBC News Online the team had worked hard to portray Oxford as a vibrant, multicultural, modern city, but that it was hard to overcome preconceptions.

Despite the bid's failure though, he said most of the events and festivals would go ahead anyway in 2008 and that the bidding process was a massive boost to the region.

Many of the people behind the bid pointed to the problem with Oxford's image.

Gillian Pearson of the Oxford Trust said: "Oxford is seen as simply an academic and upper class city, but that image is out of date, we're a hi-tech hotspot - we're the centre of the UK's biotech industry."

The bid was hugely worthwhile, it will guide the development of festivals and other development of arts and science in the county for the next five years
Robert Hutchison

Mr Stratton said: "We still have a lot of work to do on the Oxford brand, it has a very elitist image which it doesn't deserve."

Robert Hutchison put it more bluntly: "We can do without Brideshead Revisited.

"We are a modern, forward-looking multicultural city.

"We offered something different, we aimed to be a model for what a small region could do, but they opted for something similar to the Glasgow model."

Culture boost

He said the bid was a massive boost to Oxford's cultural development.

"The bid was hugely worthwhile, it will guide the development of festivals and other development of arts and science in the county for the next five years."

The bidding process also brought arts and science organisations in the city together in a way that would be beneficial for the future, he said.

Vice chairman of Oxford Inspires Tony Stratton said the team still believed their bid was the best for Britain.

High profile

"We had a higher profile overseas and would have attracted more tourists", he said.

Now the bid team are to put their energy into fundraising for the year-long celebrations they have planned for 2008.

Mr Stratton said: "Our stakeholders are still very much behind the bid, the local authorities, both universities and the arts council for the south-east.

"We have to become very active in the private sector now to ensure funding."

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