Norwich city of culture title hopes dashed

Norwich has lost its bid to become the first UK Capital of Culture in 2013.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced Londonderry as the winner, ahead of Norwich, Sheffield and Birmingham.

The team behind the Norwich bid said it had spent just £1,500 on the process, which it believes will still have a positive impact on the city.

It was supported by broadcaster and writer Stephen Fry, comedian Arthur Smith and actor Simon Callow, patron of the city's Maddermarket Theatre.

He described it as "one of the most remarkable cities in the world" with an atmosphere which is "extraordinary generous towards the arts".

'Significant achievement'

Former keyboard player with the band Yes, Rick Wakeman, said the city had "got everything" while Stephen Fry, who grew up in Norfolk, wrote about Norwich in glowing terms on his blog.

"Norwich is an independent city with a spirit that few can rival," he said.

As the winner, Derry will host major cultural events in 2013, including the Turner Prize.

Laura McGillivray, chief executive of Norwich City Council, told the BBC the bid team had spent "very little", compared with £200,000 in Birmingham and £150,000 for the Sheffield push.

She said the process had been a positive experience which could still reap rewards for the city.

Getting to the last four had been a "significant achievement" and a huge reassurance that Norwich can compete with the best in the country.

Supporters of the Norwich bid reacted with sadness as they watched the announcement being made in Liverpool on a giant screen at Fusion in the city's Forum.

Ian Woods of Norwich Puppet Theatre said: "It's very disappointing, it was such a strong bid with a good team behind it.

"This has brought together so many organisations and that will mean Norwich is a city of culture in 2013, just not for the whole of the UK."

His thoughts were echoed by John Bultitude of the Theatre Royal, who said the process had brought arts organisations much closer together.

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