As a civic university located in the heart of the city, we’re delighted to be backing Southampton’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025.
On Friday 8 October 2021, Southampton's bid was announced as one of the eight finalists on the longlist of competing cities. The other finalists include Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Bradford, Cornwall, County Durham, Derby, Stirling, and Wrexham County Borough. The city can now move forward to the next stage of its bid to become UK City of Culture 2025, with the winner announced in May 2022.
Read more about the announcement on the Southampton 2025 website
From the city’s rich maritime heritage, to its thriving arts and performance scene, open parkland spaces, to an inclusive and diverse event programme, Southampton has so much to offer. Our East Park Terrace campus sits at the heart of this, nurturing and supporting the city’s cultural communities, with our students, staff and alumni actively involved in and leading on a variety of projects and initiatives.
From our rolling programme of public events, to our community outreach work undertaken through the Solent Showcase Gallery, we have a history of working with our cultural communities dating back to 1856, when a private School of Art was originally established in Southampton’s Portland Terrace.
We’re delighted that the UK City of Culture bid is putting a new spotlight on our home city and enabling others to discover all the great things it offers.
On this page you can discover more about:
Further information on the bid process and timelines can be found on the Southampton City of Culture website and we’ll be updating this page with new content as the bid progresses.
Created by Solent’s very own Asten Holmes-Elliott, discover what City of Culture means to the people of Southampton in this video:
Proud to be a city partner
Solent joins Southampton City Council and the University of Southampton in being city partners of the bid. As well as shaping the direction of the bid we will also be actively getting involved at a grassroots level, providing support to the city’s bid team and our wider communities, including:
- Hosting the UK City of Culture 2025 bid team at our East Park Terrace campus.
- Identifying City Ambassadors from our community of Honorary Doctorates and alumni.
- Providing strategic insight and governance to the bid with our Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Julie Hall being a trustee of the Southampton 2025 Trust.
- Seconding two colleagues from our Solent Showcase Gallery during its forced closure to support with local community engagement.
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.
Claire Whitaker OBE, Southampton Bid Director
Benefits to our communities
The UK City of Culture bid process and title provides many benefits to our communities. Here are just some of the reasons we’re backing the bid:
- Catalyst for inward investment for Southampton and the central south.
- Drive civic pride in our communities.
- Exclusive opportunities through a high-profile series of events and engagement activity.
- Enhanced community infrastructure and networks.
- New volunteering and employment opportunities.
- Research and knowledge exchange opportunities for our academic and student communities.
- Real-world live briefs and projects for our student community.
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.
Professor Karen Stanton, Vice-Chancellor, Solent University
How Solent’s driving Southampton’s cultural scene
As an anchor institution with a rich heritage in arts and culture, we are at the heart of Southampton’s cultural scene. From mobilising our pool of creative talent through volunteering and knowledge exchange, to hosting key civic events on campus, we play a leading role in driving Southampton’s cultural renaissance.
Here are just some of the ways we contribute to Southampton’s cultural scene and how you can get involved.
Showcasing creativity through exhibits and events
The doors to our Solent Showcase Gallery maybe temporarily closed but our team are still out and about, making a difference, in the community.
Discover more about their work
We host a variety of public engagement events and exhibits on campus, including our end of year degree shows which you can take a look back at here.
Our partnership with Winchester School of Art also sees our students exhibit their final year work at the Alfred Arcade, a former shopping centre in Old Northam Road. Take a look back at previous exhibits.
Celebrating sporting talent
From basketball to sailing, we’re home to over 30 different sports teams, many of which perform in national leagues representing Solent and Southampton across the UK.
Discover more about our sports teams
Our Team Solent Kestrels is recognised as one of the leading community basketball clubs in the UK. With home games played within our Solent Sports Complex there’s plenty of opportunities for the local community to come onsite and support their local team. Check out the team's recent successes and upcoming matches here.
Taking centre stage
Solent’s long been at the heart of Southampton’s performance and music scene, organising festivals and providing the springboard for some of the UK’s top talent in music and performance. Alongside those performing, many of our alumni have gone on to work within the sector, working behind the scenes on audio, technology and visual effects.
We can’t wait for the festival scene to return post-Covid-19, both here in the city and across the UK. Our academic and student community were the driving force behind SmileFest, which has now evolved to a city-wide celebration of music.
Solent's Students' Union is also home to the Live Events Society, who support a number of live events and performances across Southampton. Our Solent Productions team also provide live broadcast of events including Southampton Pride and the ABP Southampton Marathon.
Supporting small business and enterprise
As a member of GO! Southampton we’re working with partners to help regenerate our retail districts. Our RE:SO store, the UK’s only student managed retail outlet, sells a range of merchandise designed by Solent students and staff. Located within the Marlands on Above Bar Street, you can check out RE:SO’s latest ranges, opening hours before heading out here.
Our Solent Business School also plays a key role in supporting local enterprise and offers a range of programmes to support future leaders at every step of their career.
Research and knowledge exchange
Our academic community has extensive experience of undertaking research projects that explore the challenges faced by our cultural communities.
Discover more about our Culture, Media, Place Group
Working in partnership
We’re part of a larger community of individuals and organisations driving Southampton’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025. Working in partnership is at the core of who we are at Solent and we are proud to be the official partner of several flagship events within the city including the ABP Southampton Marathon and Southampton Pride.
City ambassadors connected to Solent
Many of our alumni community have gone on to build successful working lives within the cultural sector, both here in Southampton and across the globe. From setting up their own freelance business to helping shape industry, our alumni regularly give back to the University, helping to inspire our current students.
Our Honorary Doctorates also play a key role in supporting the University and student community. Over the year’s we’ve recognised the talents and contribution of leading professionals within their fields and regularly welcome them back on campus to provide guest talks. We’re delighted that the following Honorary Doctorates have been announced as ambassadors of the bid.
Craig David, Honorary Doctor of Music
Jenny Packham, Honorary Doctor of Design and Solent alumna
Lawrie McMenemy, Honorary Doctor of Sport
How to get involved
The University has an internal working group chaired by Professor Peter Lloyd, Dean of the Faculty of Creative Industries, Architecture and Engineering. If you would like to discover more about the UK City of Culture bid and what it means to Solent or how to get involved please email us.
You can also keep up to date with Southampton’s bid progress by signing up the bid team's newsletter here.
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