Bangor takes on Conwy as it launches bid to become UK capital of culture
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
Bangor is taking on Conwy after it launched its own bid to become the first Welsh city designated as the UK Capital of Culture.
Leaders of the campaign – organised by Gwynedd Council in partnership with Bangor University, Bangor City Council and other partners –want to see Wales’ oldest city become the fourth holder of the title, following in the footsteps of Derry, Kingston upon Hull and Coventry.
But wanting to capitalise on its links with the slate industry – with a decision expected on UNESCO world heritage status for the slate landscape of north west Wales on Wednesday – they also see benefits for the wider community in both Arfon and Anglesey.
The bid will see Bangor face competition from other areas in the UK including Conwy, based just 15 miles away, while hoping to build on the city’s status as a multicultural community.
Gwynedd council leader, Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn, said: “We want Bangor to perform as a global, inclusive and thriving city by harnessing our rich and distinct heritage, language and culture to ensure an innovative and prosperous future for the communities and businesses of the city of Bangor and north west Wales.
“We want people from the area, the UK and the world to feel that they want to come on a journey to Bangor, to feel welcome in the city and that they understand, appreciate and celebrate our amazing and unique area.
“Past Cities of Culture have had a very urban focus, and while Bangor is the main urban conurbation in the region, we believe that our bid can connect between urban Bangor and the surrounding rural hinterland.”
‘Celebrate our Welshness’
With Bangor’s ancient roots dating back to the sixth century, he added, “This bid will celebrate our Welshness, our different cultures and our connections to other UK cities and the world – where else can claim to have roofed the industrial revolution and in particular towns, cities and villages across the UK, the Commonwealth and the World?”
The Mayor of Bangor, Cllr Owen Hurcum, added: “Culture speaks for itself in Bangor, we are the oldest city in Wales, our Cathedral has the oldest foundations of any still in use, we have the sea, the mountains, and a dockyard that sent slate all around the world.
“Indeed, that globalism is still here in our city, whilst we are proudly the city with the highest proportion of Welsh speakers in the world and thanks to our world leading university that we have had since the 1880s we are also home to hundreds more languages and cultures that make Bangor truly the multi-cultural city we are and thoroughly deserving of this title.”
With a shortlist of six to be finalised by September, they will have until next January to finalise their bids.
Visits to shortlisted destinations by the advisory panel, chaired by Sir Phil Redmond, will take place next year with the winner to be announced in May 2022.
Professor Iwan Davies, Vice-Chancellor of Bangor University, concluded: “The University welcomes the City of Culture 2025 proposal being led by Gwynedd County Council and the opportunity it affords the city of Bangor and the surrounding area.
“The focus on the City of Bangor offers a unique opportunity from which we shall benefit.
“The city has so much to offer across of the UK and internationally and the University is proud to be in a position to contribute should the proposal succeed.”