Next year could have been Dundee’s moment in the spotlight — had it been successful in its bid to become UK City of Culture.
But bosses behind the failed bid insist there’s still plenty to be upbeat about in the new year.
The city lost out on the 2017 title to Hull back in 2013, a “crushing” blow to hopes of bringing a year’s worth of events and initiatives to local people.
However, Stewart Murdoch, of the council’s leisure and culture department, told the Tele that the bid had left a lasting legacy.
He said: “We started working on this bid even before the V&A was announced to be built here.
“The bid was an endeavour of hard work and it’s something we’re inherently proud of.
“It was new territory to venture into and it was territory the team we collated thought this city more than merited a move into.
“What could have been would have been so good for the city.
“If you asked me a day after the decision was announced, it was a disaster. But the loss has acted as the tipping point for the city to become a major player in cultural events and activities for the next five years at least.
“What would have been packed into a year can now be spread out over the next few years.”
Mr Murdoch says programmes including a comic school — held every week at the University of Dundee’s Vision building — have been set up off the back of the bid.
Another successful programme linked to the culture attempt was the rebuilding of the Royal Arch earlier this year using cardboard, which saw hundreds of people flock to Slessor Gardens to take a look.
Meanwhile, a further success story is an initiative that sees Dundee’s unsigned musicians given the opportunity to professionally record and feature on an album showcasing the city’s vibrant music scene.
And at West Ward Works on Guthrie Street, a renovated space allowed artists room to showcase their work, with the building saved from dereliction.
Perhaps the biggest by-product of the bid was Dundee being named a Unesco City of Design — the first in the UK.
Mr Murdoch said: “Being recognised by Unesco opens up so many opportunities to the city.
“After the 2017 bid we applied to be put up for consideration. We used the work we had put in for the UK City of Culture bid as a building block for the application.
“The award meant Dundee became the first and only city recognised by Unesco in the UK. We can work with other Unesco cities all over the world, which is a really exciting project.”
Anna Day, manager of Dundee Unesco City of Design and cultural project manager for the University of Dundee, said: “It was totally soul-destroying when Hull was announced as the City of Culture.
“However, after two or three days of wallowing in misery we got back to work to make people sit up and recognise Dundee as the great hub of innovation and creativity it is.
“Projects like the comic school and West Ward are brilliant examples of the ideas we want to bring to the city.
“These have given the city a release for the vibrancy that was building up over the last 10 to 20 years.”
Ambitions are now set on bringing the European City of Culture title to Dundee in 2023.
Despite the threat of Brexit, the bidding team is unperturbed in its vision to see the city claim the accolade.
“In my view, we should have won the UK bid outright,” said Anna.
“We want to aim higher.”