Page last updated at 06:58 GMT, Friday, 21 May 2010 07:58 UK

Birmingham bounces back for City of Culture bid

By Victoria Stanley
BBC News, Birmingham

After the disappointment of missing out on the European Capital of Culture title in 2008, Birmingham is preparing to bounce back with its bid to become the first UK City of Culture.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Birmingham will compete against three other cities for the title

The city was a frontrunner for the title of European Capital of Culture in 2008, but lost out to Liverpool.

Liverpool's Capital of Culture year went on to boost the regional economy by £800m, attracting millions of new visitors.

Now Birmingham is hoping to emulate Liverpool's success by winning the UK City of Culture crown in 2013, competing against other finalists Londonderry, Norwich and Sheffield.

It is preparing for the final submission of its bid, and if it is successful, the economic and social benefits could leave a lasting legacy.

Birmingham City Council believes the UK City of Culture title to be worth an estimated £200m to the local economy.

'Significant boost'

Councillor Martin Mullaney, chairman of the Birmingham Cultural Partnership, said the city's tourist economy would reap the benefits.

He said: "Liverpool experienced a 34% rise in visitors, with almost 28 million people visiting the city in 2008.

"A similar rise in Birmingham would represent a significant boost for our hotels, bars, restaurants, theatres and other attractions."

Victoria Square statue
The "Floozy in the Jacuzzi" statue is one of many artworks in the city centre

He added: "Though these figures relate to Liverpool's year as the European City of Culture, you can obviously draw parallels between the two titles."

Brian Woods-Scawen, chair of the 2008 Birmingham Bid Group, said the city was already a European Capital of Culture based on the "creativity, innovation and world class events that are on offer".

He added: "What organisers must do in the UK City of Culture bid for 2013 is embrace the extraordinarily compelling cultural landscape of Birmingham.

'Learned lessons'

"A win for Birmingham would not just enhance this city and the West Midlands, but the whole country."

Mr Mullaney said: "We certainly learned lessons from the European Capital of Culture bid and one of the many strengths of this bid is that we have involved the people of Birmingham from day one.

"Unlike the last bid, this comes from the grassroots up and reflects the fact that we are the second most diverse city in Europe with the youngest population.

"This is Birmingham's bid and has been created by the people of the city to celebrate the culture of communities across the city."

Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham has shown his support for the economic benefits a win would provide.

The former director of the CBI said: "The creative industries are such an important component of 21st Century Birmingham.

'International spotlight'

"Tourism is one of the Cinderellas of the business space... the sector would receive such a boost in the West Midlands if the bid were to succeed."

Mr Mullaney added: "Importantly, winning would allow Birmingham to accelerate the pace of positive change in the city after the recession, creating thousands of new jobs.

"We have a lot to be proud of here in Birmingham and our exciting plans would undoubtedly put the city under a national and international spotlight.

"This is our opportunity to show people the real Birmingham - a modern, diverse, creative and vibrant city."

The four shortlisted cities were decided by an independent advisory panel and announced in February. The winning city will be revealed in July.

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