Minister backs city of culture bid
Culture Minister Nelson McCausland has backed Londonderry to become 2013 UK City of Culture.
Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness supported the bid on Tuesday. Taoiseach Brian Cowen has also endorsed it.
Mr McCausland said: "The UK City of Culture competition presents Londonderry with an excellent opportunity to showcase its creative and artistic talent to a national and international audience.
"The bidding process has brought together many different organisations and individuals and this collaboration can only have a positive effect, not only in Londonderry but throughout Northern Ireland as we work towards a shared and better future."
Derry projects funded by his department include the Playhouse Theatre, Waterside Theatre and An Gaelaras Irish language centre. These now provide first-class facilities for hosting events and performances.
The minister added: "This investment by the Northern Ireland executive will significantly enhance Londonderry's cultural offering, enabling Northern Ireland as a whole to benefit from the increased profile and interest in cultural events which the UK City of Culture initiative should provide."
Leaning heavily on its emergence from violence to become a regional centre for the arts, it is predicted Derry 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 a wide range of events 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.