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New culture strategy for Peterborough ahead of potential City of Culture bid

Peterborough City Council is to launch a new culture strategy ahead of a potential bid to be the UK's City of Culture in 2029.
Peterborough is considering a bid for City of Culture status in 2029

The plan will be discussed at the council's Communities Scrutiny meeting next week (September 28), which will discuss Peterborough’s cultural strategy for 2021 to 2030.

A decision on whether to bid for City of Culture status is likely to be taken in November. 

The council's last cultural strategy was due to expire last year. In 2019 it commissioned work towards a successor strategy, especially taking into account the role of culture in building new communities and given the level of growth envisaged for the city through the decade.

But the work was effectively halted by the pandemic with venues across the city, and the rest of the UK, closed.

In August 2020, the council's contract with Vivacity, the firm which had run the city's cultural, heritage, leisure and library services for the previous decade, expired. The services were taken over by the newly formed City Culture Peterborough the following month.

The Cultural Strategy Group (CSG) reformed in September 2020, identifying young people under 25 as a particular priority. It has sought, throughout the consultation, to "abide by the principles of honesty and not making undeliverable promises".

It has begun work in three main areas

  • Phase one – developing a Vision and Values Statement, together with members of the council and the Cultural Forum. It has been used to guide the work throughout. In particular the emphasis on both economic and community benefit has been examined.  

  • Phase two – wide consultation through an online survey which had about 600 responses plus discussions with about 60 different individuals involved in culture, heritage, education, community development and open spaces in Peterborough. Also meetings with several important networks which helped inform specific issues relating to culture.  

  • Phase three - from the consultation in Phase two, the CSG pulled together some of the complicated questions and also considered any gaps in the consultation and information. 

The full report can be found here

Previously, the mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Nik Johnson had announced plans for Cambridgeshire to bid to be the UK County of Culture, and a combined authority decision to bid for this for 2029 could affect a 'city' decision.   

This came following the government's announcement on May 29 that for the first time groups of towns and cities would now be able to put in a joint bid for the title.   

The first city to take on the title was Derry/Londonderry in 2013. Coventry is the current City of Culture for 2021.