Coventry will be the next UK City of Culture in 2021, it has been announced.
It beat Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea to the title, which is credited with attracting major investment to former winners.
The announcement was made in Hull during the BBC’s The One Show, as the current UK City of Culture’s year-long celebration nears an end.
The competition is held every four years, with Derry-Londonderry named as the first winner in 2013.
Swansea failed to win for a second time, having lost out to Hull four years ago.
It had a renewed confidence after creating a digital and innovative cultural infrastructure, while Sunderland wanted to win to build on current regeneration work, and the Stoke bid brought together six towns – Burslem, Fenton, Hanley, Longton, Stoke and Tunstall – to capitalise on a “once in a generation opportunity” to benefit the area.
Laura McMillan, manager of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “This is a win for Coventry, a win for young people and a win for diversity. The economic impact will be huge for the city and the West Midlands.
“It’s been a bid by and for the people of Coventry. It has brought so many people and organisations together and this is just the start.
“Over the next three years we will ensure that everyone in the city, which has been moving people by cycle, car and jet engine, is now moving people through culture.”
Emma Harrabin and Justine Themen, from the Coventry bid who were in Hull, admitted they were surprised by the announcement as they had not dared to think they might win.
Ms Harrabin said: “We really felt on this whole journey that the city was with us.
“We’ve been inundated with messages of support on social media. It’s just been such a wonderful way for the city to come together and celebrate what it has to offer.”
She said: “We knew that we had done absolutely everything we could and we were happy with what we’d delivered.”
Ms Themen said: “We’re absolutely delighted. We really feel that it’s a testament to the work of the whole city – artists pulling together, the voluntary sector organisations, the communities, business and of course the cultural organisations.
Asked about what was the main factor which sealed it for Coventry, she said: “I think it’s our diversity.
“It’s one of the most diverse cities in the UK and therefore reflective of the diversity of the UK overall. And we hope we can really demonstrates how key culture can be in building bridges across difference.”
Saying that he looked forward to seeing what the city has to offer, Arts Minister John Glen added: “I would like to congratulate Coventry on winning UK City of Culture 2021.
“The title is an incredible opportunity for Coventry to boost investment in the local economy, grow tourism and put arts and culture centre stage.
“We received excellent bids from all the cities and I would like to thank them for their efforts.”