Cornwall has submitted its ambitious bid to become the first rural area to win UK City of Culture 2025 – with £1million of investment announced to back it.

The team behind it say it would be a "huge boost" for a region that urgently needs investment to close the gap with the rest of the country.

The bid, Cornwall 2025 – Leading from the Edge, focuses on a call to action to address the climate emergency by using culture and creativity to connect communities across Cornwall with audiences around the world, on the themes of People, Place and Planet.

With millions of Cornish people now living in America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, Cornwall is pitching a ‘Global Britain’ year-long celebration designed to inspire and explore global issues, from plastic pollution to climate change.

And it will forge new creative connections across the Four Nations of the UK, tapping into a rich seam of Celtic heritage.

The bid also wants to change perceptions of Cornwall, which attracts over four million visitors a year.

The natural beauty that has inspired so much of Cornwall’s celebrated culture and creativity masks deep-rooted deprivation in what remains one of the poorest parts of England. A third of employees earn below the real living wage.

Submission of the bid has coincided with publication this week of the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper, which aims to bring prosperity to every part of the UK. When measured by wages and productivity, Cornwall is the poorest of the eight regions left in the race to be City of Culture 2025.


The bid estimates that City of Culture status would generate £119million of direct benefit to Cornwall’s economy and create almost 500 jobs, while continuing to grow Cornwall’s creative industries. It believes the long-term economic benefits could run into hundreds of millions of pounds – potentially some £870million in total.

The bid has the backing from the likes of actor and author Dawn French, lyricist Sir Tim Rice and Olympic rower Helen Glover, to broadcaster Petroc Trelawney and director of the Tate, Maria Balshaw. Bid partners include the Eden Project, Tate St Ives, and Falmouth University.

Cornwall’s bid is being led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a business-led body with a remit to strengthen the local economy, create jobs and improve skills. It is backing the bid with a newly announced £1million investment in Cornwall’s cultural and creative industries.

LEP chief executive and Cornwall 2025 bid champion, Glenn Caplin-Grey, said: “We’re putting £1million on the table because we recognise how culture is a catalyst for investment in places to drive economic growth and tackle social exclusion.

"The culture and the creative industries are a massive social and economic opportunity for Cornwall, and being UK City of Culture would be a huge boost for jobs and skills in a region that needs investment to close the gap with the rest of the UK.

“What is really exciting about our bid is how Cornwall 2025 will facilitate collaborations between art and technology to tell the story of how our environment has shaped our history and culture.

"Most importantly, it will be a call to action about how we all need to change to address the environment crisis.

"In many ways this an issue that affects every community around the world and that’s why Cornwall 2025 has really caught the imagination. Our bid will showcase all that is splann [Cornish for great] about Cornwall, and we hope everyone will get behind it, Onan Hag Oll – one and all.”

Cornwall City of Culture 2025 would include a year-long programme of more than 1,200 events for 400,000 people, with a live audience of 1.4 million and millions more online. The global broadcast audience is estimated at 1.6 billion.

Organisers are promising four ‘standstill moments’ across the year, the details of which are still to be revealed but are promised to "make national and international audiences stop and stare."

These would avoid Cornwall’s peak holiday season to spread activity throughout the year and encourage future off-season visits.

A comprehensive community events programme will involve every parish in Cornwall and every school. Details of the cultural programme will be released in the coming weeks.

Cornwall is one of just eight regions still in the running for the four-yearly City of Culture competition and submitted its bid to the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport yesterday (Wednesday) before the midnight deadline. A final shortlist is expected to March, with the winner announced in May 2022.