Milton Keynes Capital of Culture bid

Building on its rapid growth, development as a modern city and the approach of its 50th anniversary, Milton Keynes set itself a goal of transforming perceptions of the city and its cultural offer by 2023.

As part of this, the city wanted to understand what bidding for a formal cultural status – either UK City of Culture 2021 or European Capital of Culture 2023 – would entail and whether it had the wherewithal to submit a serious bid.

Using our experience of two Hull UK City of Culture bids, a Norwich bid, work on Liverpool as European Capital of Culture, and for the European Parliament reviewing all European Capitals of Culture, we spent ten weeks working with the council and key business and cultural stakeholders around the city to understand its strengths and weaknesses against requirements set by each title competition.

Through stakeholder workshops, desk research and conversations with the city’s leading figures, we set out to answer some fundamental questions: why does a city like Milton Keynes need a title; how could it demonstrate that need; does it have the cultural assets and potential needed for a plausible bid; and, fundamentally, could the whole the city get behind a bid if one ever got off the ground?

Our final report addressed these questions and gave Milton Keynes Council the confidence it needed to take discussions about a possible bid to the next stage and to explore other potential routes to advance its objectives.  Good luck Milton Keynes!

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