Birmingham will learn today whether it has made it into the next stage of the prestigious City of Culture competition.
Ministers will publish a list of the four cities shortlisted to host Britain’s first City of Culture festival, in 2013.
The accolade could be worth up to £200 million to the winning city. But city council leaders are also hoping to avoid a repeat of Birmingham’s failure to win the similar European Capital of Culture contest, which ended in defeat in 2008.
Liverpool won the prize instead, and hosted a series of cultural events which bought in more than £1 billion to the city.
The year-long festival was such a success that the Government created the new City of Culture contest in a bid to spread the benefits to other cities.
Birmingham City Council entered the contest with a promise to create a “people’s festival” which would bring art and culture to the suburbs and inner city communities, instead of focusing activities on the city centre and major cultural institutions.
Ministers received 22 entries and eight have since dropped out, leaving Birmingham in a contest with Hull, Norwich, Durham and others. The definition of “city” has been stretched to allow entries from Cornwall and a joint bid from Portsmouth and Southampton.
A shortlist of four contenders will be announced by chairman of the judges, writer Phil Redmond. He is the creator of Brookside and Grange Hill, who oversaw the 2008 Capital of Culture festival in his home city of Liverpool.
If Birmingham is successful, it will then need to submit a final, detailed bid by May 28.
The city’s 30-page bid includes plans for a new eight-week festival, which has the working title Birmingham Autumn.
But Coun Martin Mullaney, chairman of Birmingham Cultural Partnership, has said the festival could go ahead even if Birmingham fails to win the City of Culture accolade. He said: “We have been told the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will announce the shortlist but we have not been given any clues about whether we are on it or not. Obviously we are looking forward to finding out.”