Luton Council drops bid for UK City of Culture after spending £450k on 'People, Power, Passion' events

Luton Borough Council has quietly withdrawn its bid for UK City of Culture after a poorly-attended pilot 'culture year' drew a mixed response.

Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 11:38 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 11:39 am

The decision to pull the bid was made in private - outside of council session - after Luton Borough Council's executive chose to defer making a decision in its November meeting.

In October, Luton News reported here that the council had spent £450,000 on 'People, Power, Passion' - a series of events marking 100 years since the Luton Peace Day riots and billed as a pilot year for Luton's City of Culture bid.

However, the event was disastrously attended and left the viability of the council's bid in doubt.

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Despite the low turnout figures, 'People, Power, Passion' has been nominated for 'Best Arts Initiative by a local authority' in this year's Hearts for the Arts Awards.

A Luton Borough Council spokesman stated: "Rather than considering a full bid for UK City of Culture in 2025, the council has decided to build on the momentum and success from last year by developing a new town-wide creative skills project that will create new jobs and develop skills for local people in arts and culture.

"Over the coming years there will be a focus on diversifying and building participation, developing local artists and fundraising, and it may still consider a future bid for city of culture."

Council leader, Cllr Hazel Simmons added: “People Power Passion was a huge success not just in terms of the amazing events that people enjoyed, but also through the skills, jobs and opportunities it resulted in.

"It was also a chance for us to see what we do well and our strengths and as a result we think it is much more valuable to focus the next few years on further developing our local arts and culture offer and developing skills and jobs for people here at home."

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