By Shanaz Gulzar, Artist, Producer and Chair of Bradford’s City of Culture Bid 2025
Bradford is UK City of Culture 2025. I’ve been asked what it felt like hearing Bradford named, and I don’t think that feeling can be captured better than the roar of hope, joy and optimism echoing from City Park that evening.
It is still sinking in, we are also in transition and already recruiting the leadership roles for the delivery team. Winning the bid was only the first step, we now have to make it happen. The work to get us to this stage was huge, the research, the ideas, the partnerships initiated, and the partnerships promised on designation, now all of this has to be realised.
The driver for any designation win is a bid that demonstrates, need, ambition and a plan for cultural led transformation and underpinning our year of culture is our 10-year strategy. Culture is Our Plan firmly recognises the significance and impact of a thriving cultural sector. ‘Our Time, Our Place’ forms the foundation of our bid and delivering the bid as part of a larger cultural strategy ensures that we maximise the benefits and opportunities the designation brings, helping leverage other investment and creating cross sector collaborations.
The themes of our bid were informed by our artists, history, geography, attitude and people of Bradford and the theme ‘Coming of Age’ reflects our youthful district, we are the 5th largest metropolitan district and the youngest city in the UK with thirty thousand of our young people turning 18 in 2025. This can offer a new definition of art, heritage and culture, we are knowingly different and alternative, and we celebrate it!
We are entrepreneurial as a result of having to find new ways of working, when there are no obvious routes, we make new ones. This approach makes us a place where innovation, creativity and ideas can thrive, and as City of Culture 2025 we can share our Bradford model with the rest of the UK and internationally.
Culture has always played a vital role in our district’s history and our international links reach across the world via our mighty wool industry and the post war immigration, the people who have made this district their home. ’City of The World’ another of our themes explores these links, building new networks, and ensuring that Bradford plays a vital role in the cultural rejuvenation of the UK. These influences play out through the languages we speak, the food we eat, the connections we make and the stories we tell. We know that the established narratives don’t reflect who we are or our rich and complex diversity, we are in control of our own narrative for the first time in decades, let’s tell it how we know it.
I keep thinking that the mighty promise we made to deliver an extraordinary and exciting 2025 is now ours to do and we have to make good on it, come on Bradford!