Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (pictured) has today, 29 May, launched the competition to find the UK’s City of Culture 2025.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which is running the initiative in collaboration with the devolved administrations, said it will use culture as a catalyst for levelling up areas outside London and put culture at the heart of its plans to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

The winner will take the baton from Coventry and be the UK’s cultural spotlight for a year.

DCMS said that for the first time, groups of towns will now be able to join together and apply for the title to be awarded to their local area – widening the scope of which areas of the country could benefit.

It said, “Towns and cities will need to articulate a strong and unique vision for their future growth, celebrating local heritage and using culture to bring communities together, build a sense of place and inspire local pride.”

Bidders will also be asked to demonstrate how investment in culture and creativity will drive growth, how they will open up access to culture and to develop partnerships and celebrate links with places across the UK.

To encourage as many places as possible across the UK to bid and to benefit from the UK City of Culture process, DCMS will offer funding of up to £40,000 to up to six longlisted places to help develop their applications.

The winning city or town will be announced in Spring 2022. Prospective bidders will be invited to join a two day workshop in Coventry which will provide further detailed information and advice on the bidding process.

Dowden said, “UK City of Culture is a fantastic showcase of the huge impact culture has in towns and cities across the country. From Derry-Londonderry, to Hull and Coventry, previous winners have shown how the competition can deliver greater cultural participation, drive economic regeneration and boost local pride. I encourage towns and cities across the UK to put forward bids for 2025 and champion their local arts and culture scene. I’m also delighted to confirm the competition will run in future years, as a sign of our commitment to levelling up culture across the whole of the UK.”

Criteria for UK City of Culture 2025 can be found here.

More information on how to apply for the UK City of Culture expert advisory panel is here.