Dundee is too cultured to be UK City of Culture 2017 so say the judges who decided to hand the title to Hull.
Not only that, but the bid didn’t have enough support from the city council and we’re too small and should have done more to include St Andrews, Perth and Edinburgh in the proposed programme of cultural events.
The Tele can exclusively reveal what the judges really thought of Dundee’s City of Culture bid and why Hull beat us to the national title last month.
A year of work went into the final 132-page document submitted to the 12-strong independent advisory panel in November.
And a week later our hopes were dashed.
In a feedback report direct from the judges, the Evening Telegraph has learned they were impressed with the “immense effort that Dundee put into the bidding process”. Several positives were pointed out, including the “strong digital focus of the bid and the fact that this gave the bid a contemporary feel”.
The judges also found “the Dundee programme was one of the most innovative and ambitious of all bids considered and was well resourced”.
The panel praised Dundee’s track record at delivering cultural assets, citing the DCA, and the V&A at Dundee, which is scheduled to open in 2017. However, the judges said eight areas of the presentation were seen as “less strong”.
The panel was concerned about a lack of local political commitment to the bid, stating in the report “support from political leaders at Dundee City Council could have been more apparent in the presentation and pitch”.
The judges also felt Dundee was already benefitting from a major culture-led regeneration with the Waterfront development and the V&A and that City of Culture would not be as important here as for the other cities on the shortlist. Dundee did not have as much funding secured as our competitors, did not focus enough on diversity, older people and lower skilled communities, and did not bring our impressive architecture, musical heritage and cultural traditions to the fore, the judges added.
The panel also questioned how the emphasis on digital industries would reduce poverty and social exclusion in the city.
And judges commented that the bid team had given less thought to what the legacy of Dundee’s City of Culture year would have been.
Leisure and culture director Stewart Murdoch said it appeared the judges thought Hull needed the help of the accolade more.
He said: “The decision was made. We will respect that decision. Even if we do not necessarily agree on the specific points.
“We have always understood Dundee’s bid was very strong, but Hull needed the impact of the title in the view of the judges.
“What they did not say was that Hull’s bid was better than Dundee’s. Hull’s need was greater than Dundee’s and they’d benefit more.”
Mr Murdoch added: “We will build on this for Dundee with a long-term cultural development for the city. It will be known as a place of culture.”
Hull’s winning formula
What won the judges over to picking Hull as the winner?The city very convincingly demonstrated why culture is such an important part of its city plan, and that the bid set out ways to monitor Hull’s progress. The focus on legacy and the commitment by the council to enhance funding beyond 2017 to help secure the legacy. Evidence of engagement to date at a grassroots level across Hull, the strong support from the private sector and the Creative People and Places programme which will enable a dedicated approach to participation for harder to reach communities. The active role played by the Hull University in the bid. The wide-ranging proposed programme, which incorporates national and international elements. The clarity on how different groups will be engaged and how positive social impacts will be delivered. The freedom theme in the programme and the use of culture to explore challenging issues such as slavery. The panel was impressed with the excellent international links Hull has already made and is building: to be part of Europe linked to the Baltic, to Sierra Leone and South Africa. The interesting focus on architecture and places and use of spaces and buildings.