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Fingers crossed for Norwich as culture judges deliberate

PUBLISHED: 14:00 19 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:23 01 July 2010

Writers Centre chief executive Chris Gribble

Writers Centre chief executive Chris Gribble

Mary Hamilton

Norwich faces an anxious wait to find out whether it has won the City of Culture title for 2013 - but the city's cultural organisations will not be taking time out.

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Norwich faces an anxious wait to find out whether it has won the City of Culture title for 2013 - but the city's cultural organisations will not be taking time out.

The judging panel are expected to announce their decision in the second week of July, but members of Norwich's bid team said they were hoping to build on the current excitement about Norwich regardless of the wait.

Chris Gribble, chief executive of the Writers Centre Norwich, went with the team of delegates to present the city's bid to the judges on Wednesday.

He said: “The bidding process has changed the way the city will work for the future.

“There is a commitment now from the council to put culture at the heart of their plans for the next 10 years - and while that sounds very dry and clinical, for people like me it's incredibly exciting.

“Cultural organisations in Norwich can speak directly to the city and county council and have their backing. In other places I have worked that has never happened.”

On Wednesday Norwich's delegates were grilled for more than two hours about their bid, titled “A Whole City Experiment”, which could see mass celebrations during 2013 and could be worth £215m to the local economy.

The other shortlisted cities, Birmingham, Sheffield and Derry/Londonderry, also presented their bids to the panel.

Mr Gribble said there were strong political reasons for Derry to win the title in the light of the recent release of the report on the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings

But Mr Gribble said that the cultural competition was not purely political, adding: “While no one would begrudge it if Derry won the title, Norwich has a lot of ambition and we are as confident as we can be that we have build an incredibly strong bid.”

Culture minister Ed Vaizey was also keen to play down concerns that Derry could benefit from the Saville Report's findings that the 14 people killed by British paratroopers in the city had been shot without justification.

Speaking after the presentation on Thursday city council leader Steve Morphew said he was confident about Norwich's chances.

Stuart Hobday of the Norwich Arts Centre echoed Mr Morphew's sentiments, saying: “What's so important is that even if we don't win the title we have to continue forward with what we've started.

“What we want to do now is build on the momentum generated by the application process.

“It has given recognition to the fact that Norwich is a cultural hotspot, and the public and the media have started to realise that for its size Norwich has got an awful lot going on.

“Being shortlisted was a real positive for the city in any case, and regardless of the result we have benefited enormously.

“But we'll all be keeping our fingers crossed that we will win!”

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