Belfast Telegraph

Coulter hopes for 'new day' in city

Derry - Londonderry is now one of the last four candidates for the UK City of Culture 2013
Derry - Londonderry is now one of the last four candidates for the UK City of Culture 2013

International songwriter Phil Coulter sang of The Town I Loved So Well while Londonderry was convulsed with violence during the Northern Ireland conflict.

Now he hopes the city can finally enjoy the "bright brand new day" he envisaged in the famous song as it bids to become UK City of Culture in 2013.

Mr Coulter said: "No city deserves it more and for Derry to be recognised as the City of Culture 2013 would be the ultimate affirmation of the 'bright brand new day' in the town I loved so well."

Leaning heavily on its emergence from violence to become a regional centre for the arts, number crunchers predict Derry, as it is known to most in this nationalist-dominated city, could enjoy a multimillion-pound windfall if successful. It is one of four cities bidding for the title. The others are Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield.

The year 2013 will mark the 400th anniversary of the Plantation of Ulster by settlers from Great Britain and the building in 1613 of the Walled City of Derry.

But bid organisers are looking to the future with an explosion of theatres and performing spaces including the Millennium Forum and Nerve Centre for youth culture. The schedule for 2013 would include everything from Punk Idol - aimed at finding a successor for famous rockers the Undertones - to a celebration of Polish independence day in recognition of the large minority community.

University of Ulster academic Kate Bond said: "Derry has always been a very cultural city. Years ago it was running festivals which brought a calibre of art to Derry, the city has always had that strong tradition, but in recent years there`s been a strengthening of the infrastructure that is to a large extent unrivalled elsewhere.

"The bid will provide a strong opportunity for collaborative endeavours, certain initiatives born out of gifted and determined individuals. This is an opportunity for the whole city to work together and to draw much larger sections (of the community). It provides a real focus and an opportunity for that to happen in an inclusive way, that is the real potential for the city to be part of."

Judges want to see a city undergoing a "step change", a winning place that would be significantly transformed by the title.

Nationalists have been in a wrangle with unionists, with Sinn Fein expressing concerns that the city would be the UK City of Culture when they and many other nationalists feel more comfortable building links with the Irish Republic. There has also been an effort to change the city`s official name from Londonderry to Derry.

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