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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Cardiff kicks off culture capital bid
Cardiff Castle
Cardiff's preparation for the bid have already been criticised
If Cardiff's bid to become European Capital of Culture 2008 is successful, it could result in the creation of thousands of jobs, according to the city's chamber of commerce.

On Monday, the Welsh capital officially began a six-month campaign leading it to its official bid for the status.

Cardiff Civic Centre
The status could create thousands of jobs in the city

Citing the example of Glasgow - which held the title in 1990 - Cardiff Chamber of Commerce said the city stands to substantially benefit economically and socially.

One city from the UK will be chosen to hold the sought-after European title, which can help boost local business, tourism and the arts.

Other British cities vying for the position include Inverness, Newcastle and Gateshead, Bradford and Milton Keynes.

"The figures for Glasgow are impressive. Around 8,000 jobs were created as a result of the award and visitor numbers went up from 700,000 to 3.5million in that year alone," said Cardiff Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Helen Conway.

Cardiff Mayor Russell said the bid will be "an opportunity to showcase the whole of Wales through its vibrant capital city".

We must grasp this wonderful opportunity to show other parts of Europe what can be achieved by a small country when everybody works together

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy

But the bid has already come under fire by a group of consultants hired by the council.

In a report obtained by BBC Wales in May this year, consultants McCann, Matthews, Millman highlighted a number of serious weaknesses in the city's cultural life, including the lack of a modern Welsh art gallery.

While other cities were well advanced with their strategies, they criticised an absence of a cultural strategy and the lateness of Cardiff planning its bid.

Despite this, Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy appealed for cultural, arts and sporting bodies all over Wales to "unite behind Cardiff ".

"While our capital city spearheads the bid, it needs a groundswell of support behind it from the rest of Wales to succeed...," he said

"We are justifiably proud of the contribution which Wales has made to culture, arts and sport.

Cardiff's Millennium Stadium
Murphy: An opportunity to showcase the whole of Wales

"Welsh voices have taken centre stage in the greatest opera houses of the world; we have produced artists whose works grace some of the world's most famous galleries; the works of so many of our writers and poets have achieved immortality; our sportsmen and women compete - and succeed - against the best in the world; and we continue to produce contemporary artists and musicians who achieve international fame.

"We must grasp this wonderful opportunity to show other parts of Europe what can be achieved by a small country when everybody works together."

Assembly Minister for Culture, Sport and the Welsh Language Jenny Randerson said winning the status would be "marvellous advert for Wales".

"The opportunities of being involved in this process will be far ranging however and not just focused on the capital. I believe tremendous benefits are to be gained for the cultural future of Wales as a whole," she added.

The Welsh Assembly has agreed to match fund a sum of up to 500,000 to assist Cardiff's preparations for the bid subject to "a cohesive arts and culture strategy covering all facilities and developments in Cardiff".

See also:

31 Oct 00 | UK
Joining the culture club
17 Jan 98 | Europe
City of culture but no snow
26 Apr 00 | Wales
Hopes of European culture title
08 May 01 | Wales
City's culture bid under attack
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