Resort named as Great Exhibition finalist
Blackpool is in the running to stage the Great Exhibition of the North.
The resort has been named as one of four finalists to stage the two-month exhibition celebrating the best of art, culture and design across the North of England.
It will take place in 2018.
The Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) has named the four finalists as Blackpool, Bradford, Newcastle-Gateshead and Sheffield.
Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, said: “The Great Exhibition of the North is a unique opportunity to celebrate the creativity of Northern England and I am thrilled we received so many innovative bids.
“British arts and culture are among the finest in the world.
“I am determined we democratise the arts and celebrate the best in every part of our nation.
“What’s more, cultural investment can bring enormous benefits for communities – it drives regeneration, promotes tourism and increases life chances.
“The shortlisted bids show just what’s on offer and show we have brilliant options for hosting the Great Exhibition of the North.
“Whichever is successful, this exhibition will leave an important legacy to benefit the whole country.”
Ruth Connor, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire, said “We’re delighted to learn that Blackpool, the UK’s favourite seaside resort, is in the running to host the Great Exhibition of the North.
“Getting through to the next stage speaks volumes about the Lancashire’s ambition as a cultural destination and strengthens Blackpool’s excellent reputation for creating and delivering world class events.
“Our joint bid highlighted that Blackpool has the ability to deliver an imaginative and spectacular exhibition and events programme in collaboration with Lancashire and other northern partners.
“The investment made in Blackpool will support the transformation of the visitor economy, by supporting the resort’s vision to make the Winter Gardens a leading UK centre for popular culture.
“The Great Exhibition of the North would showcase the very latest design, innovation and pioneering spirit that continues to thrive both in Lancashire and in the North of England.
“Creating and making is in our DNA and we’ll be doing our utmost to make sure the Great Exhibition of the North comes to its natural home in Lancashire in 2018.”
A new visitor economy strategy for Lancashire, developed through consultation across the sector by Marketing Lancashire, aims to grow visitor numbers from 63 million a year to 70 million by 2020, with heritage and culture one of four key themes highlighted for opportunity and growth.
Blackpool will play a key role in reaching that goal, as current host to 17 million visitors annually.
Speaking on behalf of Blackpool Council, deputy leader Coun Gillian Campbell, said: “We are delighted that Blackpool has been selected to move into the next phase of this process.
“The Great Exhibition of the North is a hugely exciting opportunity and one that we firmly believe that Blackpool can deliver for the benefit of all of Lancashire.
“Blackpool has a long history of staging world-class events and we are confident that, given the chance, we can produce something that will truly capture the public’s imagination. We are the perfect location to celebrate the best of art, culture and design across the North of England.”
The next stage of the competition will include interviews with Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire and chair of the Great Exhibition Board, before the winning venue is announced this autumn.