The choice of the six cities follows recommendations from an independent expert panel – chaired by Sir Jeremy Isaacs – which visited, and examined in detail, the bids of all 12 cities who put themselves forward.
Sir Jeremy's panel will now do more detailed work on the bids from the short listed cities, with a final recommendation for a winner to be announced by the Prime Minister next May.
Tessa Jowell said:
"The competition to find the UK's European Capital of Culture in 2008 has brought out the very best in 12 UK cities. All the bidding cities recognised the power of culture and creativity as an engine for regeneration, and a rich seam for boosting civic pride and firing imaginations."
"So now we have six Centres of Excellence; six showcases for the very best that Britain, the most creative country in Europe, has to offer.
"I am indebted to Sir Jeremy Isaacs and his panel for their tireless work in getting us this far, and I thank them in advance for the work they must now undertake to help recommend a final winner. Whoever comes first next year, I hope that all the bidding cities will build on the work they have done so far.
"For everyone who bid, I am sure that this will be the beginning, not the end, of a journey to put culture at the heart of their city."
Commenting on the work of his panel, and the quality of bids they assessed, Sir Jeremy Isaacs said:
"This has been a very rewarding experience for all of us. We have very carefully considered all 12 bids and seen for ourselves what each city has to offer.
"We have been knocked out by the determination, imagination and sheer hard work that all the bidding cities have shown. It is to the cities' great credit – and to my panel's great frustration – that there was so little to choose between all 12 bids. It was very hard indeed to make a final decision.
"So now there really is everything to play for – may the best city win!"
Notes to Editors
1. Following the success of the European City of Culture programme, which runs until 2004, the EU has agreed a successor programme entitled European Capital of Culture. Each member state in turn will nominate a city to hold the title. Cork has been selected as the first city to hold the title in 2005. For 2006, Greece has nominated Patras. The UK will nominate a city to hold the title in 2008. The 12 UK cities bidding were: Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Canterbury and East Kent, Cardiff, Inverness and the Highlands, Liverpool, Newcastle/Gateshead, Norwich and Oxford.
2. The purpose of the title is not simply to highlight existing cultural excellence, but to encourage cities to develop and innovate in the cultural field. It will be an opportunity to show that culture is central to the life of a city, and demonstrate its contribution to regeneration, social inclusion, education and business. Glasgow, which held the title European City of Culture in 1990, is widely regarded as an example of the positive, long-lasting cultural and social benefits which the designation brought (see briefing note, attached).
3. The Culture Department is responsible for managing the competition to select the UK's nomination for 2008. The criteria and guidance for the competition were launched in September 2000, following consultation with colleagues and the devolved administrations. The deadline for applications was 31 March 2002. Sir Jeremy's independent panel were drawn from all four countries in the UK, and were appointed after consultation with Ministers in other Departments and the devolved administrations. The nine members, joining Chairman Sir Jeremy Isaacs and Deputy Chairs Sue MacGregor and Judith Mayhew, were Barry Douglas, Marc Jordan, Hilary Lade, Magnus Linklater, Stewart McGill, Tessa Sanderson, Miranda Sawyer, Peter Stead, Ruth Wishart.
4. The shortlisted cities will be designated "Centres of Culture". The UK nomination for Capital of Culture will be selected from this shortlist for nomination by the Prime Minister to the European institutions by December 2003. A jury, whose members are nominated by the EU institutions, will report on the nomination during 2004, and the Council of Ministers will formally designate the city as European Capital of Culture 2008.
5. Previous and future holders of the title European City of Culture are:
1985 Athens 1986 Florence 1987 Amsterdam 1988 Berlin
1989 Paris 1990 Glasgow 1991 Dublin 1992 Madrid
1993 Antwerp 1994 Lisbon 1995 Luxembourg 1996 Copenhagen
1997 Thessaloniki 1998 Stockholm 1999 Weimar
In 2000 nine cities joined under the common title "European Cities of Culture in the Year 2000": Avignon, Bergen, Bologna, Brussels, Helsinki, Kraków, Prague, Reykjavik and Santiago de Compostela.
2001 Rotterdam and Oporto 2002 Brugge and Salamanca
2003 Graz 2004 Genoa and Lille
6. Countries to host the European Capital of Culture:
2005 Ireland 2006 Greece 2007 Luxembourg 2008 UK
2009 Austria 2010 Germany 2011 Finland 2012 Portugal
2013 France 2014 Sweden 2015 Belgium 2016 Spain
2017 Denmark 2018 Netherlands 2019 Italy
Background Notes on Glasgow - European City of Culture 1990
"the best proof of the positive impact of 1990 was that afterwards French artists did not have to be persuaded to come to Glasgow but actually put themselves forward" (French Cultural Attache in London, quoted in Myerscough);
1. Glasgow's year attracted significant media interest in UK and abroad - there was generally positive coverage of Glasgow as a city of character and vision, addressing challenges on a cultural platform;
2. Infrastructure programmes and completions included: the Royal Concert Hall to replace St Andrews Hall (destroyed by fire in 1982), McLellan Galleries; Glasgow Film Theatre - second auditorium; Scotland Street School - refurbished as a Museum of Education, improved disabled facilities in 18 venues, and minor works to improve a range of other venues;
3. Overall the year saw a 40 per cent increase in attendances at theatres, halls, museums and galleries (from 4.7m in 1989 to 6.6m in 1990); 1.7m attendance at outdoor and community events; 3.7m at commercial entertainment (cinema; pop and rock concerts). The proportions of residents attending increased in all art forms - up 10% for plays, 9% for pop/rock, 8% for museums and 6% for classical concerts - taking Glasgow above the British averages;
4. There was a 50% increase in foreign market traffic from 320,000 in 1989 to 450,000 in 1990, putting Glasgow in third place in the UK's top city destinations for overseas visitors (behind London and Edinburgh). Additionally, overall foreign tourism traffic in 1991 was still 31% above the 1989 position and in 1992 it regained the 1990 level, 25% ahead of the overall Scottish position. Advancement in the overseas market was strongest in Western Europe.
5. Glasgow hosted 120 conferences during 1990, with 48,000 delegates - more than double the 1989 figure. At least 21 specialist conferences were reported to have been attracted to Glasgow in 1990 because of its designation as European City of Culture;
6. There was a positive net economic return to the regional economy of £10.3-14.1m and extra employment estimated at 5,350 - 5,580 person years (Ecotec analysis);
7. There is evidence that a significant number of the new voluntary groups and organisations which were formed in preparation for the year survived after 1990 and, at their peak, represented around 10% of voluntary associations in the cultural sector in Glasgow;
8. There was a 15% increase in belief in London and the South East that Glasgow was "rapidly changing for the better". Almost all Glasgow residents agreed that the year "improved the public image of Glasgow" and 61% thought the programme "made the city a more pleasant place to live". Only 16% thought it was "only for visitors to the city".
9. Glasgow's achievement led to increased EC interest in the Cities of Culture programme. Previously this had been an accolade for a capital city or a city with an established cultural reputation (Athens, Florence, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris in the preceding 5 years). Glasgow demonstrated that the programme could be used to develop the cultural potential of non-capitals and cities without an established reputation.
(Source: European Cities of Culture and Cultural Months: Research Study, Myerscough 1994)