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Norwich well placed to bid for City of Culture title

PUBLISHED: 22:06 27 November 2017 | UPDATED: 22:22 27 November 2017

Darren Henley, CEO of Arts Council England with Professor John Last of the Norwich University of the Arts. Picture: Denisa Ilie

Darren Henley, CEO of Arts Council England with Professor John Last of the Norwich University of the Arts. Picture: Denisa Ilie

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The CEO of Arts Council England believes Norwich is well placed to bid for the UK City of Culture 2025 title.

Darren Henley, who was attending a Norwich University of the Arts event, said the city had a lot going for it when it came to arts and culture.

“I think Norwich Castle is the real jewel in the crown for Norwich.

“When you see the sort of riches you’ve got there it’s fantastic.”

He described The Forum and library as “a great civic space” and something the city should be proud of, while he said people’s perceptions of Norwich from outside Norfolk were very positive.

“It’s a really nice place to live and people are looking to live in nice places. The city is busy, it’s bustling and there is a buzz around the streets which is a real positive thing.”

He said the city was rich in arts and heritage while the Norwich University of the Arts was also an asset.

“Universities are great custodians of arts and culture in the cities where they are based and I think having an arts university in a city is a very special thing.

“There aren’t that many specialist arts universities around the country.”

While Norwich has a lot going for it, Mr Henley said still more could be done to invest in arts and culture, not only in traditional art forms but also in new technology.

“There’s no reason why a digitally well connected and physically well connected place like Norwich couldn’t be a really strong creative industries hub.”

He said the City of Culture title had transformed Hull and people’s perceptions of the city.

“It has been really exciting to watch. I’ve also spent time in the three English cities nominated for the 2021 title - Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland - and again it has brought people and different organisations together for the creative good.

“I would encourage everybody to seriously consider going for 2025. There is no reason why Norwich would not be a very strong contender.”

Turning to Brexit, Mr Henley said it would offer opportunities to the local arts and culture industry through the university.

“Norwich historically was a great gateway to Europe and I don’t see why Norwich can’t be a gateway to Europe again in the future.”

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