South West Wales

UK City of Culture 2017: Swansea bid 'very powerful', says Maria Miller

Maria Miller and Swansea council leader David Phillips enjoy a presentation by pupils from Hafod Primary School
Image caption Maria Miller and Swansea council leader David Phillips enjoy a presentation by pupils from Hafod Primary School

Swansea Bay has put forward a "very powerful bid" to become the 2017 UK City of Culture, the UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller has said.

"Swansea has got a very strong bid indeed and the cultural heritage here is really incredibly impressive," she said during a visit to the city.

The Swansea Bay bid covers Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire.

It faces competition from Dundee, Hull and Leicester with the winner to be named on 20 November.

Mrs Miller is not on the independent judging panel but will be announcing the winner.

Local connections

Speaking to BBC Wales during her visit on Wednesday she said: "Having gone to school in Bridgend I know the area very well indeed and the strength of the bid speaks for itself.

"It's going to be really exciting and who knows, maybe I'll be back next week," Mrs Miller added, referring to the announcement of the winning city.

"I think the people of Swansea are absolutely embracing the bid for the UK City of Culture and I do wish them every success in it because it's clearly a very powerful bid.

"There's a great deal of investment going on in the area at the moment and I think it will be a great thing for the city to achieve."

Mrs Miller's visit came 24 hours before Swansea Bay's bid team leaves for the UK's present City of Culture - Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland - to make their final presentation.

She visited the National Waterfront Museum, Dylan Thomas Centre and the Vetch Veg project on the site of Swansea City FC's former ground.

Pupils from Hafod Primary School were also at the museum to give her a presentation.

Swansea council leader David Phillips said: "Although there's strong competition from the other shortlisted cities, we hope this augurs well for our final presentation in Derry.

Key figures

"There may only be six of us in the room for the final presentation but, thanks to the terrific support we've received, it will feel like thousands of people from across Swansea Bay will be stood behind us too."

Swansea Bay boasts key culture figures from every generation but poet Dylan Thomas is the most famous of them all and is known locally as Swansea's most famous son.

Image caption Maria Miller (left) visited the Vetch Veg project on her visit

A year of celebrations will take place in 2014 to mark the centenary of the his birth.

Other famous cultural figures from the Swansea Bay region include Hollywood stars Richard Burton, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones, comedian Rob Brydon, and singer Bonnie Tyler.

Actor Michael Sheen, composer Karl Jenkins and comedian Rhod Gilbert have backed Swansea Bay's bid.

"Culture for us here in Swansea Bay is the ordinary - it is our way of life, it defines us and we define it," said Sheen.

"Now is the time that Swansea Bay got its chance to shine and show the world what we're all about."

If Swansea Bay wins the City of Culture accolade, a Pete Ham festival for unsigned bands - named after the Swansea-born lead singer of Badfinger - and a high-tech history lab at the former Hafod Copperworks site could form part of the 2017 programme of events and activities.

Being City of Culture has brought Derry-Londonderry events like the Turner Prize, an outdoor theatrical extravaganza written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce - who worked on the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony - and BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend.

But organisers faced financial difficulties when income from sponsorship and ticket sales failed to live up to expectations. The City of Culture does not receive direct funding from the UK government.

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