Stephen Fry backs Norwich City of Culture bid

Kim BriscoeTop comedian and actor Stephen Fry has backed Norwich's bid to become the first UK City of Culture.Support Norwich on FacebookOfficial Norwich 2013 bid websiteKim Briscoe

Top comedian and actor Stephen Fry has backed Norwich's bid to become the first UK City of Culture.

The television personality believes it is 'high time that Norwich took its place in the limelight' and wants to see it chosen from the shortlist of four cities for the prestigious title in 2013.

Also backing the bid is Norwich Puppet Theatre, which says the benefits of success would be important to boost its own future.

Norwich is competing against Birmingham, Derry/Londonderry and Sheffield for the title and the winning city will be announced in the summer.

Stephen Fry, who has long been a champion of both Norwich and Norfolk, and who lives in the county, said: "I was thrilled to hear that Norwich has been short-listed for the first UK City of Culture in 2013.

'There is surely no city in the UK that deserves the accolade more and it is high time that Norwich took its place in the limelight, as a model for city living in the 21st century.

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'I look forward to supporting the next stage of the bid. Good luck Norwich - bring the title back to Norfolk and the east."

When Liverpool secured status as the European Capital of Culture in 2008, it showed how cultural status and recognition could bring long-term economic and social benefits.

Nic Hopkins, chairman of the board of trustees at Norwich Puppet Theatre, said status as City of Culture would encourage an already growing interest in the arts and boost the theatre's own profile on a national and international scale.

He said: 'I think success as a City of Culture would give a fillip to that public support and encourage them to get involved in things.

'I think business would be very encouraged to help support not just Norwich puppetry but all of the smaller individual and special organisations which make Norwich great, because arts support would be seen as 'a good thing'.'

The Whitefriars-based theatre was left in crisis after it had its Arts Council funding cut in 2008.

The Evening News launched a Save Our Puppet Theatre campaign to gather support and help ensure it did not shut.

Norwich City Council and the City of Norwich Partnership are leading the culture bid and have been working with a number of cultural organisations, including Writers' Centre Norwich and the Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

Marion Catlin, cultural development office for the council, said: 'It's important to have people like Stephen Fry, who is known to almost everybody in the country, support us but it's also important that the whole of the arts and cultural community, and wide community, get behind the bid because there are so many things we can gain from this.

'It will help Norwich's external profile, but also our own sense of pride in the city and an awareness of it has to offer.'

The bid team can be contacted by email at

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email

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