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University of Southampton and Solent University have endorsed their support for Southampton’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025 by signing up to become official partners for the bid.

17th December 2020

A virtual signing to cement the partnerships took place on 17 December and both universities will work to make bidding to bring UK City of Culture 2025 to Southampton a part of their ambitions in the coming year.

Each university has already played a significant role in the bid process, with students from Solent University creating the Southampton 2025 launch video and University of Southampton leading on the research and evaluation of the consultation phase of the bid. Listening to the local community is at the heart of Southampton’s bid to become UK City of Culture and the consultation phase, which began in early November, has included city-wide virtual focus groups, as well as an online public survey.

President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Southampton, Professor Mark E. Smith says:

“The University of Southampton is proud to pledge our support for the bid to become UK City of Culture 2025, we already support arts in the city through our concert hall and art gallery, our outreach programmes and of course hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. As the lead organisation in the Southampton Cultural Education Partnership we are engaged in research into the city’s arts and cultural impact, this bid will allow us to further put our world leading research expertise to work for the benefit of the city.

“We recently committed ourselves to become a fully civic university and the UK City of Culture bid is a great way to start the collaborations and bridge building that requires. The bid to become UK City of Culture 2025 is an ambitious project to put arts and culture at the heart of how the city understands itself and the University is excited to be lending our support.”

Through a cross university partnership, both universities will drive awareness for the city’s bid, not only amongst the student population of Southampton, but also on a local, national and international level. The universities will also use the efforts to win UK City of Culture 2025 as a way to engage students in the city’s heritage and as a catalyst for greater engagement with the people of Southampton. The bid will help link the cultural aspirations of the city with two of the largest institutions who promote the city around the world. Critically, equality, diversity and inclusion will be embedded into all aspects of the partnership delivery, as well as the support and promotion of the sustainability strategies of both universities.

Solent University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Karen Stanton says:

“As a civic university, Solent has strong links with the community, and our pool of creative talent is already helping to enrich resident and visitor experience. The UK City of Culture bid is an opportunity for us to come together, inspire wider learning in the community, and increase access to education, while promoting Southampton’s profile as the powerhouse of the central south region.

“With our expertise in the creative industries, sport and performance, we are delighted to be working alongside the University of Southampton on this cultural partnership - driving awareness, engagement and long-term impact for our communities.”

Bid Director, Claire Whitaker OBE, said

“By nurturing and retaining Southampton’s emerging talent, both universities will play a pivotal role in the UK City of Culture bid process. Together, we will use the UK City of Culture bid as a catalyst to develop a new narrative for our city whereby we become a destination city that is attractive to study, work and live in. In doing so, we will strengthen Southampton’s position as a global destination for the future”.