“Medway is competition ready!”

Published: Friday, 20th August 2021

City of Culture campaign calls on Medway, Kent and south-east communities to get behind Medway’s bid as government announces the list of competitors.

Medway’s City of Culture bid today (Friday, 20 August) welcomes the announcement by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that a record number of 20 places across the UK have submitted expressions of interest in becoming the next UK City of Culture in 2025.

The competition uses culture as a catalyst to develop areas outside London which have sometimes been overlooked and put new parts of the UK on the international cultural map as well as delivering significant benefits for local people and the local economy.  

Medway, which has been developing its community-powered bid for 18 months, will find out if it has been longlisted in September ahead of a final announcement in May 2022.

Building the foundations of Medway’s future

Jatin Patel, Co-Chair of the Medway 2025 Trustees and Creative Director at local fashion studio Kalikas Armour, said: “The fact so many places are bidding shows just how monumental the benefits are. The expression of interest we submitted in July is the culmination of 18 months engagement with thousands of people of all ages, communities, businesses and organisations across Medway. We’ve heard Medway people describe the future they want for themselves and the area and our submission to the judges is a bold vision for how culture can build the foundations for Medway’s future. This isn’t a vanity exercise, we saw from Hull in 2017 the new investment which flowed into the area, the jobs created, the spend tourists brought with them for local businesses and the opportunities young people got. This is the moment to back ourselves and bring a moment of real change and potential to Medway.”  

Medway’s expression of interest submission reflects the location’s rich military history, talent for creative innovation and industrial heritage as a place built and shaped by communities of everyday people. 

Despite being deeply rooted in the character of the local area, the bid looks firmly to Medway’s future showcasing the area’s unique character as a place which thrives on challenge. Medway’s world-class heritage and creativity have been key to Medway’s rejuvenation after the mass unemployment caused by the closure of Chatham Dockyard in the 1980s, as well as how the area has risen to the challenge posed by COVID-19.

Massive opportunity for Medway

Maddie Springett, Co-Chair of the Youth Engagement Group for the bid, said: “Creativity, innovation and imagination have always been huge drivers in Medway and our bid is a massive opportunity for young people here as well as the rest of the community to do what we do best and shape the future of the place we live. We’re known for Dickens and the Dockyard but there are so many more stories in Medway’s past and present which deserve to be told right now. Young people we talk to sometimes say Medway isn’t a place where things like this happen. Well this is happening here, right now! As Medway celebrates our first Pride this weekend we have a tiny taste of what could be to come for Medway in 2025 and everyone’s invited to be a part of it!”

Medway’s bid draws together enormous cross-sector support across the south-east as Medway campaigns to bring the title down south for the first time in the history of the competition.   Supporters include Medway Council and Kent County Council as well as Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and South East Local Economic Partnership. Businesses across Medway are invited to join them in stepping up to back the bid by putting their name down as Bid Business Ambassadors.

Bidding for the title in its own right has been shown to have a hugely positive impact. Previous longlisted bids have used the bidding process to bring together lasting local, national and international partners, share a vision for their area and attract investment.

Celebrating Medway’s towns, villages and peninsula

Deputy Leader of Medway Council and Portfolio Holder for Community Services, Cllr Howard Doe, said: “We are pleased that Medway is part of a record number of areas which have expressed interest in becoming UK City of Culture 2025. Medway’s bid is a celebration of our five towns, villages and peninsula and there is so much to be proud of. The Coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated Medway’s resilience and how strong we are when our communities come together. Bidding to become UK City of Culture 2025 is part of Medway’s recovery and enables us to write the next chapter of Medway’s fantastic story.”

The winner of the UK City of Culture 2025 title, which will be announced next year, will take on the baton from Coventry, the 2021 UK City of Culture, and be at the centre of the UK’s cultural spotlight in 2025.

Find out more about Medway’s bid

Follow Medway 2025 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and post your support using hashtag #Medway2025. 

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