Cultural Trust plans for City of Culture runner up funds

Cultural Trust plans for City of Culture runner up funds

by Sally Churchward.

The team behind Southampton’s untimately unsuccessful bid to become City of Culture 2025 have revealed new plans to boost culture in the city.

It was a huge disappointment to many in the city when Southampton lost out to Bradford to claim the title, missing out on the huge investment and influx of visitors it would have brought. 

As a runner up Southampton was awarded a grant of £125,000 by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Since then, many have been asking what the plans for the money are, with some calling for the cash to go directly to the city’s numerous small, grass-roots organisations.

However, the plan is for a new Cultural Trust to be formed, with the bid’s original organisers working with business partners and seeking additional funding for the project.

A number of business partners of the original bid have agreed to put money towards a new Cultural Trust for the city, on the grounds that this is match funded by The Arts Council. 

The process of putting in an application for an Arts Council grant has begun and it is hoped that a new Cultural Trust will be ready to launch on April 1, 2023.

Part of the money the city received from the DCMS will go towards this, whilst it will also fund a conference, to be held on February 9 at Southampton’s MAST Mayflower Studios, with the aim of bringing those involved in the original bid back together and looking forward to the development of the Cultural Trust. This will be aimed predominantly at those employed in the cultural sector in the city.

Claire Whitaker, bid director of Southampton City of Culture 2025, explained in a meeting of City of Culture 2025 ambassadors last night (29 September) that the trust would cover three areas – culture, festivals and events and destination and tourism.

“We are trying to do our very best for the city,” she said. 

So far, the University of Southampton, Solent University, Southampton City Council and the Mayflower Theatre have all agreed to be financial partners in the new project, with discussions with further organisations currently underway.

It was argued at the meeting that more needs to be done to make the activities of the Cultural Trust more accessible to a wider range of of the city’s population, who, due to the timings of events, lack of childcare, ways information has been shared, and other issues may have felt excluded from, or been unaware, of the City of Culture 2025 bid and not taken, or been able to take, opportunities to participate in the process.

However, there was a strong feeling at the meeting that the momentum and hope brought to Southampton by the City of Culture 2025 bid should not be lost, a sentiment that has been reflected in discussions, on social media and in person, amongst local people who took an interest in the bid. And it is certainly the hope of those involved in the process that a new Cultural Trust will be an important step in achieving that.


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