UK cities hope to become European Capital of Culture despite Brexit vote

The UK government has announced its intention to go ahead with the competition for 2023, with hopeful cities including Leeds, Dundee and Milton Keynes.

Brussels , Belgium - March 23, 2015: The European Commission Headquarters of European Community

The UK government has launched a nationwide competition to find the 2023 European Capital of Culture, despite the EU referendum result earlier this year.

The city designated to become the European Capital of Culture organises various cultural events, which can lead to increased investment, more jobs and a boost to the local economy.

Britain was selected to host the cultural initiative in 2023 – prior to the vote to leave the European Union in June – and it is not yet known whether it will be allowed to continue hosting duties after triggering Article 50.

“Globally-minded and dynamic country”

However, culture secretary Karen Bradley has indicated the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will continue under the assumption that the UK will be hosting the event.

Bradley says: “Celebrating the cultural heritage and innovation in Britain’s cities is part of our plan for an outward-looking, globally-minded and dynamic country.

“The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe. We want that relationship to reflect the kind of mature, co-operative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy.”

Leeds, Dundee and Milton Keynes

Three non-EU cities have also previously held the title; Iceland in 2000, Stavanger in Norway in 2008 and Istanbul in 2010.

UK cities that have launched their bid for the title – which is held by two different European cities every year – so far include Leeds, Dundee and Milton Keynes.


Leeds announced its bid last month, revealing a visual identity and typeface designed as part of a collaboration between designer Lee Goater and type foundry Dalton Maag.

“Early days”

Milton Keynes first announced its intention to take part in the competition in 2015, but has not revealed any branding or design appointments as of yet.

In light of the Brexit vote, a representative of Milton Keynes Council says: “It is early days and it will be a while yet before we really know the impact of Brexit on the Capital of Culture titles. The work we’re doing in Milton Keynes is essential to building a strong cultural future and as such we will continue preparing the sector and the borough as a cultural hotspot.”

Dundee has now launched its bid, as it begins work on the V&A Museum of Design, which is expected to open in 2018.

“Reflect the character of the city”

Dundee City Council leader, councillor Ken Guild, says: “Dundee’s bid will reflect the character of the city and its people…The energy and enthusiasm of the universities and our cultural sector will ensure that we put forward a strong case for the city.”

A cross-EU panel of experts will select the winning UK city to hold the title, with the winner being announced towards the end of 2018. A city from Hungary will also host the European Capital of Culture title in 2023.

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