Holding image

Southampton City of Culture 2025 –
why we’re backing the bid

We’re over the moon to see the launch of Southampton City of Culture 2025 bid.

Here at Chaptr, we’re proud to be based in the heart of Southampton where we celebrate, embrace, and work alongside our city’s buzzing cultural community. It’s so exciting to see that Southampton City Council is officially bidding to become the UK City of Culture for 2025.  

Speaking to the Daily Echo, a host of the city’s leading dignitaries expressed their excitement at our commitment to the pursuit for the prestigious title: 

  • “The outcome will…give people who live and work here a spring in their step and develop a sense of pride for the city” Peter Taylor, Chair of Southampton Chamber of Commerce
  • “We are putting ourselves on the UK map – it is our time.” Sandy Hopkins, Southampton City Council Chief Executive
  • “This bid allows us to show the world who we are and what we have to offer.” Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Culture and Homes

Sure, the financial benefits of being named City of Culture are attractive – Hull’s successful bid in 2017 led to a tourism boost estimated to be more than £300 million – but the benefits to current and future generations are priceless. 

As Bid Director Claire Whitaker OBE said: “Bidding to become UK City of Culture 2025 provides us with an excellent opportunity to deliver huge social, cultural and economic benefits for the city that will last for years to come.” 

Jewels in Southampton’s cultural crown

Southampton’s cultural pulse is powered by a host of fantastic Southampton-based creative teams, many of which we’ve had the pleasure of working with.

    • John Hansard Gallery – this south coast creative landmark gives everyone the opportunity to experience great art that inspires change
    • So Young Magazine – a music magazine inspired by fanzines from the punk era fully illustrated by emerging and contemporary illustrators
    • Ripe – an exhibition of outstanding new work by recent local graduates designed to nurture and grow emerging artists

Inspiring the future

One of the (many) reasons we’re giddy with excitement at Southampton’s City of Culture bid is that we’re firm believers in the power of art and culture to connect people, shape lives, and inspire future generations. 

Culture and creative arts are at the core of what we do. We help brands in these sectors thrive in a digital world. Our mission is to create connections between people, culture and the creative arts through better websites, inspiring millions to think, feel and do.

And what better way to spread this vision to a wider audience than by positioning the city of Southampton as a hotbed of creativity. To quote councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Culture and Homes: “Culture has become the beating heart of our great city, with so much to celebrate and be proud of.” 

Showcasing the city’s creative capabilities will engage and inspire many more to think, do, and make a difference. After all, if we can connect the present, we’ll inspire the future.

Time to shine

Southampton’s City of Culture bid will be shaped by our diverse cultural identity, which has been formed over the centuries. We celebrate this rich heritage through incredibly popular events such as our annual Black History Month, the Asian Mela festival, and the Sea City Museum.   

Speaking of the bid process, Claire Whitaker OBE highlighted the city’s community-led approach to the initiative: “I am looking forward to soon entering our period of consultation and engagement which will span across Southampton, to ensure that the bid programme is shaped by our people and our communities.” In the same way, diversity is at the heart of our community, it will be at the heart of our bid.  

Looking forward

Following what has been a tricky few months for the local arts community, Southampton’s City of Culture Bid offers a welcome ray of light for the future.  

In May 2020, our beloved Nuffield Southampton Theatres (NST) sadly went into administration due to the Covid-19 crisis. Speaking at the time, the Stage newspaper (who crowned NST ‘Regional Theatre of the Year’ in 2015) described it as ‘a sad day not only for Southampton…but for the country’s theatreland in general’.

And yet, despite the pandemic, there is still a passion for local arts communities to thrive. We’re proud to be working with Ripe, who give emerging artists the opportunity to exhibit their work.

Highlighting the importance of these grassroots initiatives, former Ripe exhibitor Annette Warner, artist and Fine Art Graduate, said: ‘Being ‘picked’ provided me with the invaluable opportunity to continue investigations within my art practice which might otherwise have come to a halt after ending my three-year degree course that had nurtured the growth of our work.’  

Back the Southampton City of Culture Bid

We believe this is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Southampton’s cultural roots, re-energise and engage the arts community, and inspire creatives to recognise the city as a creative hub. To borrow a phrase from Giles Semper, Executive Director of GO! Southampton: “Finally the country will see what Southampton’s made of!”

You can find out more about Southampton’s City of Culture Bid here.