Norwich businesses back culture bid

Businesses in Norfolk are rallying to the call to support Norwich's bid to be the UK's first City of Culture in 2013. MARY HAMILTON looks at why they are backing the bid.Support Norwich on FacebookOfficial Norwich 2013 bid website

Businesses in Norfolk are rallying to the call to support Norwich's bid to be the UK's first City of Culture in 2013. MARY HAMILTON looks at why they are backing the bid.

There are two simple reasons why businesses should get behind Norwich's bid to be the UK's City of Culture in 2013 - jobs and money.

The lesson of history is clear enough.

The City of Culture title would be a magnet for tourists - drawing in visitors from overseas and elsewhere in the UK to spend their holiday pounds, euros and dollars in Norwich's shops, tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants.

It will also raise the city's profile as one of the best places in Britain to live and work - a place where the workforce enjoy the kind of quality of life that people elsewhere can only envy.

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So how much difference would it make to the local economy if Norwich wins the title for 2013?

A cool �200m.

But there's another potential benefit.

The City of Culture title would help draw Norwich's businesses together and encourage collaboration.

As May Gurney's group business development director Ian Findlater said: 'This is the perfect opportunity for all parts of the community to work together.

'Success would bring many benefits for local businesses. It would define Norwich as a vibrant, attractive place to live and work, highlighting its economic and cultural vitality - simply put, a great place to do business, of national significance.'

Businesses throughout Norfolk already support cultural activity here, with many seeing the bid as another way to promote the region and ensure its continued growth.

Jeremy Robson, operations director of Norwich-based chartered accountants M+A Partners, added: 'We feel we have a corporate and social responsibility to support the cultural heritage of the region.

'This can only be good for the city and the region with the inward investment it will bring and the firm fully supports Norwich's bid as the UK City of Culture in 2013.'

Being part of the bidding process has already prompted attention from the national media, including an article in the Independent on Sunday describing the city as 'an incredibly moving place and worth any amount of effort to pay a visit'.

Norfolk Chamber of Commerce chief executive Caroline Williams said: 'Already as a shortlisted City of Culture, Norwich is being promoted on a national and international scale.

'This is not only increasing the profile of Norwich but Norfolk as well and this is a great help in attracting inward investment into the county.

'Becoming the first UK City of Culture in 2013 would make a significant difference with an estimated �200m boost to the local economy and would naturally stimulate business activity across a range of local business sectors.'

Chris Starkie, chief executive of Shaping Norfolk's Future said: 'The City of Culture bid offers huge potential for businesses in Norwich and Norfolk.

'It's a great opportunity to market the city and the county on a national stage.'

As well as boosting the profile of Norwich itself, Mr Starkie said he believed that the tourism industry throughout Norfolk would benefit from increased visitor numbers as people became more aware of what the area had to offer.

Lydia Smith, director of Norfolk Tourism which runs Visit Norfolk, described the bid as a 'win/win situation' for the county as a whole, pointing to research conducted by East of England Tourism that put the total business turnover supported by tourism in Norfolk at nearly �2.5bn in 2008.

The sector accounted for 13.3pc of all jobs in the county - nearly 50,000 in total - and more than 25m people visited the county.

'The bidding process is an excellent opportunity for Norwich and Norfolk,' said Ms Smith. 'The City of Culture title would definitely have a positive impact on the economy but it is difficult to put a figure on the overall financial value.'

Clare Millar, head of Visit Norwich, added: 'Not only are we seeing more national press interest, it seems that more and more people are thinking seriously about planning to visit Norwich over the forthcoming months.

'We are just back from exhibiting for the first time at The Best of Britain and Ireland travel show in London, where our Norwich and Norfolk exhibition stand proved to be extremely popular with so many people wanting to pick up brochures and get more information from us.

'VisitNorwich wholeheartedly supports the UK City of Culture bid and through our network of member businesses we are encouraging all those businesses involved in the visitor economy to help spread the word about our short-listed status.'

Today is the launch of the official logo and website for Norwich's City of Culture bid - built and designed entirely by local businesses.

Web design and consultancy firm Wintercorn have teamed up with Darren Leader Studio to create an interactive site that will help people in Norwich get involved and put their ideas across to the team behind the bid.

The site, which will continue to develop and grow during the bidding process, pulls together images, video and text from a variety of sources including Flickr and Twitter, as well as comments and submissions from users and information about the City of Culture bid.

Keri Lambden, director of Wintercorn, said: 'I would love to see loads of culture come together in the City of Culture bid. The whole thing is about people getting involved, especially on the website.

'We have areas where people can submit their images and their videos, people can see what others are doing and talk about their own experiences of the city's culture.

'The exposure that our business is getting from working on the bid is fantastic for us, and it is good to be involved with such a wide-reaching idea.'

Designer Darren Leader's versatile and bold text logo for the bid can be customised with a variety of different background images to incorporate different views of Norwich.

His work on the City of Culture bid is the latest in a portfolio of work for local brands ranging from City College and the University of East Anglia to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and local band The Lost Levels.

He said: 'It's your bid - it's everyone's story to be told everywhere. It's a lovely idea to keep individuals at the heart of the bid.

'I have always been a big believer in Norwich as a brand in its own right - it's a cool little city and it needs to blow its own horn.

'There is culture bubbling up everywhere through the pavements of the city, with lots of people creating their own little movements and scenes - there are so many individuals making things happen.

'I think the bid team was aware of our feelings about the bid and the city, so we came forward to work on the project and to lend our skills to the cause.'

You can get involved with the new City of Culture website at Tweets using the hashtag #norwich2013 and Flickr images tagged 'Norwich UK City of Culture 2013' will appear there automatically.

Support Norwich on FacebookOfficial Norwich 2013 bid website