Four candidates have been shortlisted from nine cities bidding to host the UK’s first Great Exhibition of the North in 2018.
The shortlisted bids from Blackpool, Bradford, Newcastle-Gateshead and Sheffield will be assessed by the Great Exhibition board before a final selection is made by government ministers, with the host city to be announced in the autumn.
The government is contributing GB£5m towards the exhibition and a further GB£15 million into a legacy fund to attract further cultural investment in the North.
Despite the change of government leadership since British voters narrowly elected to leave the European Union, the UK government is fully committed to the Great Exhibition of the North.
“The exhibition, which will run for at least two months, will showcase the great creative, cultural and design sectors across the whole of the North, and boost investment and tourism in the region,” said Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture.
“The Great Exhibition of the North is a unique opportunity to celebrate the creativity of Northern England and I am thrilled we received so many innovative bids.
“British arts and culture are among the finest in the world. I am determined we democratise the arts and celebrate the best in every part of our nation.
“What’s more, cultural investment can bring enormous benefits for communities - it drives regeneration, promotes tourism and increases life chances.
“The shortlisted bids show just what’s on offer and highlight that we have brilliant options for hosting the Great Exhibition of the North. Whichever is successful, this exhibition will leave an important legacy to benefit the whole country.”
The shortlist includes two Yorkshire cities, Bradford and Sheffield, as well as the Lancashire resort of Blackpool and Newcastle-Gateshead in the North East.
The destinations that did not make the shortlist were Halifax (West Yorkshire), Harrogate (North Yorkshire), Scunthorpe (Lincolnshire), St Helens (Lancashire) and Whitehaven (Cumbria).
“The quality of all nine submissions was incredibly strong and I’d like to congratulate the four towns and cities who have made it through to the final shortlist,” said Sir Gary Verity, Chair of the Great Exhibition of the North Board and Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire.
“I and the Great Exhibition Board are very much looking forward to meeting the teams behind the four shortlisted bids to hear their exciting proposals in person. This is an incredible opportunity to really showcase the creativity and culture we have here in the North and I know whoever wins will thoroughly embrace that vision.
“The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will work with the bidders who were not shortlisted to ensure as many people enjoy and benefit from the exhibition as possible.”