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MPs call for ‘town of culture’ award to regenerate local areas

Royal Shakespeare Company staff are facing redundancies Stratford-Upon-Avon, home to the RSC, was one of the examples cited in the letter of a town that showcases culture and creativity
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MPs are urging the government to introduce a town of culture award to run alongside UK City of Culture.

An open letter published in the Guardian from a group of politicians led by Labour MP Yvette Cooper has requested a meeting with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to discuss the idea further.

While towns are eligible to apply for UK City of Culture, the letter argues they are “simply not equipped to contend against major cities in a bidding process that is resource intensive”, therefore disqualifying “huge parts of the country that are rich with cultural history and heritage”.

The letter states: “Instead of having to compete with big cities once every four years, or lose out completely, we believe there should be a distinctive town of culture award convened by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport every year.”

It adds: “A year-long programme of cultural activities and events would help to regenerate local areas and high streets, create new jobs and bring communities together.”

The letter goes on to cite examples of smaller communities being “great showcases for culture and creativity”, including the Batley and Spen Youth Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Other signatories of the open letters include Batley and Spen’s MP Tracy Brabin and Delyn MP David Hanson.

UK City of Culture is an initiative set up by DCMS with the aim of using culture as a catalyst for regeneration. Coventry will be next to hold the title in 2021.

A spokeswoman for DCMS said: “We understand the power of culture and the arts has a positive impact on towns and communities, which is why towns can enter the UK City of Culture competition.

“The Festival of Great Britain in 2022 will provide further, unique opportunities to celebrate and champion our vibrant and world leading culture and creative industries”.

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