The man behind one of the grittiest portrayals of Swansea has issued a rallying call urging everyone to get behind the bid to make Swansea the UK City of Culture 2021.
Kevin Allen, who directed cult-classic Twin Town, has stepped from behind the camera to star in a short film at some of his favourite city haunts – from the Kardomah café to the Exist Skatepark, and from Castle gardens to the Espresso café, to launch the ‘Swansea Is Culture’ social media campaign for Swansea2021 as the city joins ten other areas to battle it out for the UK City of Culture 2021 title.
The campaign, which went live April 13th on the Swansea2021 Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, will celebrate Swansea’s pioneers of culture and the often-unsung individuals and communities throughout the city who have built our heritage from generation to generation. Over the next two weeks, the ‘Swansea Is Culture’ campaign will feature some lesser-known characters as well as the better-known faces to demonstrate that every single person in Swansea is important to our interpretation of culture. And, as Kevin explains, culture isn’t necessarily a lofty concept – it is of the streets and it is part of the fabric of people’s daily lives.
“Culture is a scary word to some people. Some think the word culture only relates to art galleries and poetry. But nothing could be further from the truth. Karaoke is culture, skateboarding is culture, fashion is culture, coasteering is culture, allotments are culture, singing in the shower is culture – when I made my first feature film, Twin Town, joyriding was culture.
“I am proud to get behind Swansea’s bid for the UK City of Culture 2021. I’m inviting everyone in our city to help us interpret what culture means to them. We have a fantastic opportunity to bring our wonderful city to a global stage. We certainly have the talent, we have the vision and we have the know-how. And most importantly we have the people.
“Dylan Thomas called Swansea an ‘ugly, lovely town’. Twin Town called it a ‘pretty shitty city’. I’m sure many people have their own names for this wonderful, diverse and sometimes frustrating city by the sea. But above all, Swansea is real. Swansea is culture.
“So we are inviting Swansea people to get in touch and to have their say by following our Facebook page – Swansea2021 – and telling us what culture means to them.”
Swansea’s bid is being led by the Council, with the backing of local organisations including arts and cultural organisations, voluntary groups, The Swans, Swansea BID, both Universities and many more who want to see Swansea succeed. Swansea Council’s Head of Cultural Services, Tracey McNulty, joined the council after the city narrowly missed out on the UK City of Culture 2017 title to Hull and is keen to build on that good work and secure UK City of Culture 2021 as an added dimension of the City’s forthcoming regeneration plans.
Originally from Port Talbot but with a wealth of UK-wide cultural regeneration experience, Tracey has combined her local and professional experience to shape the city’s cultural strategy over the last few years with the clear aim of making an even stronger case for why Swansea should be the UK City of Culture 2021.
“This campaign is a call to action for the people of Swansea and everyone who has ever visited, lived, worked or studied here – plus our neighbours – to get behind our bid, because with everyone’s support, we can win this and the impact will be felt right across the region and Wales. Often the perception of culture is quite narrow and, perhaps, quite highbrow and we do want to celebrate talent and showcase those who have worked hard to build their skills, knowledge and abilities in the arts, live music, sports, science, history, but culture is also about the things we do in our every day lives here in Swansea. And what one person considers culture may be different to another – ‘Swansea Is Culture’ is all about celebrating those different people and perspectives that collectively make Swansea what it is today and showcase the best of what we have to the world. Culture comes in all shapes and sizes and we believe we have it in bucket loads here in Swansea, that’s why we are confident we could be the next UK City of Culture. Why not?”
A successful bid would bring millions of inward investment to Swansea and would deliver an exciting year of innovative events that local people and visitors alike can experience and enjoy. It is estimated that the total City of Culture investment for Hull’s title this year will be over £100million, including £80million for capital and city centre improvements and £36million from a range of organisations such as Arts Council and Lottery, to stage the year-long programme of events and outreach activities as well as establish the long term legacy for the City.
Coupled with the recent City Deal news, the impact of a bid for Swansea to be UK City of Culture 2021 could be immense, continuing to transform the area’s fortunes, bringing massive economic benefits and a lasting social and cultural legacy for communities throughout the city.
“It genuinely feels like the foundations are now set for Swansea. We had great support when we bid for UK City of Culture the last time round and this is another fantastic opportunity to involve everyone and undertake something together as a city. The whole city must get behind this, not only because of the economic wealth it will generate, but because of the difference it will make to Swansea and Wales and our future generations.”
The initial bid is due for submission on April 28, after which the Department of Culture, Media and Sport will draw up a shortlist. Final bids will then be submitted by the end of September, with a winner set to be announced in Hull in December 2017.
People can join the campaign by following Swansea2021 (or Abertawe 2021 for Welsh speakers) on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.