City of Sunderland

Sunderland officially registers City of Culture bid

Sunderland is one of 11 areas of the UK to have officially registered a bid to be named City of Culture 2021.

Coventry, Hereford, Paisley, Perth, Portsmouth, St David's and the Hundred of Dewisland, Stoke-on-Trent, Swansea, Warrington and Wells have also formally entered the race to follow in the footsteps of both Derry/Londonderry and Hull.

The former held the title in 2013, with the latter in the midst of its year-long reign.

The initiative is designed to use culture as a catalyst for economic and social regeneration, as well as raise the profile of arts and creativity across the country.

It also helps cities attract increased business investment and boost tourism.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has committed £3m to the UK City of Culture host from 2021 onwards to boost local heritage.

Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital and culture, said: "UK City of Culture is a fantastic opportunity for towns and cities to celebrate their creativity and use culture as a catalyst for economic growth.

"[It] helps boost tourism and raises the profile of arts and culture. The exciting funding commitment from the Heritage Lottery Fund today is yet another incentive for towns to secure this prestigious title."

Ros Kerslake, chief executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, added: "This list shows there is clearly a great deal of enthusiasm among the UK's cities for celebrating their unique culture.

"Heritage, much of which has benefitted over the past 23 years from National Lottery funding, is so important to a city's identity, as well as making a huge contribution to tourism, jobs and the local economy.

"Building on the support we have given to Hull 2017, this funding will allow the UK City of Culture 2021 to showcase its heritage to the world."

Those interested in submitting bids to be UK City of Culture 2021 were invited to register with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport by the end of February. Bids must be submitted by 28 April 2017.

A shortlist will then be announced in the summer, before the winning city is revealed in December.