Birmingham would benefit from bidding to become Britain’s first City of Culture whether it is chosen or not, according to the head of Liverpool’s successful Capital of Culture event.
Phil Redmond, the scriptwriter and television producer who masterminded Liverpool’s year of festivities, said it was a “win-win” situation.
Birmingham was beaten by Liverpool in the contest to become European Capital of Culture for 2008. But it has been invited to bid a new national title, created by the Government to try to bring the benefits enjoyed by Liverpool to other parts of the country.
The winner will be named City of Culture 2013. The rules of the contest allow “city regions” to bid, raising the possibility of Greater Birmingham entry involving surrounding towns and cities.
Birmingham City Council is considering whether the city should enter the contest and will make a decision in September.
Mr Redmond, creator of Grange Hill and Brookside, was creative director of Liverpool’s events. He has worked with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to draw up proposals for the UK scheme.
He said Liverpool’s victory in the Capital of Culture had a huge impact “on the people and their confidence, and their willingness to take new ideas forward.”
But even the process of bidding could benefit a city, he said.
“It is almost a win-win. When you bid for something like this you bring people together. They start talking corroboratively and collectively, abandoning their own insular agendas and working to one common purpose.
“So what gets left behind is a cultural network that might not have existed in the past. That has been one of the strengths of 2008 in Liverpool, bringing those people together and working collectively.”
The UK City of Culture could expect to receive free publicity worth around £100 million, thanks partly to a commitment by the BBC and Channel 4 to publicise events, he said.
This would help promote the winning city throughout the media, he added. “If the BBC say they are coming to do something it then in itself becomes a media event.”
However, the City of Culture will not receive any extra funding, said Mr Redmond.
“It is about keeping people around the table, talking and exchanging ideas, and how people can work corroboratively.”
One if the issues Liverpool had faced was trying to decide what was meant by culture, he said.
“But in the European Capital of Culture paperwork was a short form which said ‘arts, literature and shared lifestyle’ as a definition, and that’s what we took as a benchmark in Liverpool, because you are then able to roll in things like the educational and community projects.”
The city council has begun work on a draft 10-page bid, which will be considered by the council’s Cabinet in September before it decides whether to enter the contest.
Paul Tilsley, the authority’s deputy leader, said “I have no doubt that Birmingham can make a compelling case to be UK City of Culture but it is only right and proper that we thoroughly evaluate the costs and benefits.”