City of Culture Bid Needs to Use Our Greatest Asset
Plymouth has some incredible resources, but which is the greatest? Is it the unique waterfront that has been praised by seafarers and visitors for centuries? Or is it the vast green spaces of Dartmoor that embrace the city? Or the towns, villages and sites that are close by, full of history, heritage and stories?
In my opinion, Plymouth’s finest resource is none of these things. What sets us apart, and has always done so is the people that live here.
Plymouth is home to a unique type of person.
Resilient as the granite that our homes are built of and warm as the waters in Plymouth Sound, we have survived civil war, bombing and economic hardship. We are talented, resourceful and ready to take on a challenge that others may consider daunting. We explored the world and brought much of it back with us.
I’m not just talking about Janners here. Plymouth continues to attract people from all over the world to adopt the city as home, and contribute to our community and economy, people who are every bit as committed to our city’s future as those born here. Practically every week I meet another new business starting up here. We need to be proud of our greatest asset: the people that live here.
How Do We Make Sure We Win?
The question isn’t whether Plymouth should bid for being named the UK’s City of Culture. The potential benefits are too many to ignore. No, the real question is: how do we make sure we win? In my opinion, we can do that by using our greatest asset.
The Real Voice of the City
We have to take every opportunity to share and amplify the voices that support Plymouth’s City of Culture bid. But that isn’t enough. We must encourage more people to join those voices; we have to make it easy to be part of the growing community of supporters. We have to encourage new ideas and new approaches to voice our support. Above all, we should aim to amplify the real voice of the city. Plymouth’s culture doesn’t just live in the art galleries and theatres. It’s part of what we do every day and it’s not just for the social elite.
You Don’t Have to be a Culture Vulture
It doesn’t matter if you’re a ‘culture vulture’ or not. You don’t have to have a velvet jacket or bow tie to be part of the Plymouth 2017 City of Culture movement. You just have to care about the past, present and future of our city. If you do, you have a voice that needs to be heard.
Trying to Win Will be Good for Our City
I support Plymouth’s City of Culture bid because the very process of trying to win will be good for our city. We’ve seen before from previous host cities, that the greatest benefits for those cities have been in the inevitable transformation that occurs when they pull together to show the world how good they are. This is exactly what’s been happening in Derry/Londonderry, the current host city.
A Chance to Influence Plymouth’s Brand
It’s a process that makes an enormous difference. It helps to define the city’s personality, values, and identity. Plymouth is just in the process of rebranding as Britain’s Ocean City. That is an unfinished process right now. This bid is our chance to influence and develop that brand so that it is defined by the people of the city, rather than a design agency and a focus group. Our brand needs to be an expression of our culture, so the success of brand and the bid are closely linked.
Of course, that means we need to understand what our culture is, and there’s the rub. Could you define it?