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Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham, backs the bid

Subscribe to RSS RSSTuesday, 18th May, 2010

Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham Kt, has added his voice to Birmingham?s bid to be the first UK City of Culture, citing the huge economic potential that winning the bid would create for the city in terms of jobs and new business start-ups, in both the creative and visitor sectors.

He said: ?The creative Industries are such an important component of 21st Century Birmingham. They provide so many entry-level jobs for young people and symbolise the achievement of transitioning the West Midlands economy into innovative channels.? ?Tourism is one of the Cinderellas of the business space. Employing millions of people and generating enormous inward overseas currency flows, the sector would receive such a boost in the West Midlands if the bid were to succeed. I am proud to add my fulsome support to the bid.?

The West Midlands has been the region hardest hit by the recession, with unemployment in the region running as high as 10% - which is 2% ahead of the rest of the UK. The worst affected have been the younger working population, aged between 16-24 which is one of the reasons why a key focus of Birmingham?s UK City of Culture bid is the Next Generation with young people from across the city contributing to the bid.

Cllr Martin Mullaney, Chair of the Birmingham Cultural Partnership which is leading the bid, echoed Lord Jones? comments. He said, ?If Birmingham won the title of UK City of Culture, it would create over £200m in additional direct visitor and programme expenditure alone ? with additional indirect spending across the city by visitors more than doubling this figure.

?Importantly, winning would allow Birmingham to accelerate the pace of positive change in the city after the recession, creating thousands of new jobs in the creative and hospitality sectors and increasing community engagement in Europe?s most diverse city.?

Birmingham is battling it out on the shortlist, against Sheffield, Norwich and Londonderry, to win the title. Thousands of local people and cultural organisations, from every community across the city, have contributed to the bid, reflecting the city?s diverse population and combination of international and home grown talent. Last month alone over 7,500 people logged on to a unique 24 hour culture blog, highlighting the extraordinary variety of events held in just one day across the city.

Lord Jones? support follows that of internationally-respected actress Julie Walters, former Python, Terry Jones, R&B singer Beverley Knight and Olympic athlete (and ?Strictly? finalist), Denise Lewis MBE, all of whom are proud of their roots and are keen to see their city recognised for its rich cultural tapestry and warm and capable Brummie welcome.

The clock is now well and truly ticking. Final bids must be submitted to the independent judging panel appointed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport by this Friday, May 21st 2010 and a decision is expected in the summer.