Northern Ireland councils plan day off for all in European Capital of Culture bid
Details of Belfast's bid to become a European Capital of Culture 2023 have been leaked.
A BBC report reveals that the uncosted City Council draft bid document called #WeAre2023 - prepared in association with Derry and Strabane Council - contains a host of fascinating proposals, including:
• A forest of trees on Royal Avenue from Belfast City Hall to Ulster University's Belfast campus.
• An Anthony Gormley sculpture on the Glenshane Pass.
• A new arts festival in Londonderry called New Norths.
• A carnival marking the 1932 outdoor relief strike in Belfast.
• Portraits of people dancing projected on landmark buildings in Belfast and Derry for all of 2023.
• A national #loveto day in 2023 when businesses would give staff a day off to go to a cultural event.
• A series of "bothiesetails on the border" where artists would work.
• A project called homebots that would train teachers to help pupils build domestic robots.
Cities in both the UK and Hungary are due to be awarded the title in 2023, and Belfast, Dundee, Milton Keynes, Leeds and Nottingham have formally submitted their bids. While the UK will no longer be a member of the European Union by 2023, Belfast City Council still hopes the bid has a chance of success. The UK Government has been eager to point out that three non-EU cities have held the title in the past - Reykjavik in 2000, Stavanger in 2008, and Istanbul in 2010 - with the host cities only required to show a "strong European dimension" to their cultural programmes.
If the bid is successful Belfast and Derry would follow Glasgow and Liverpool in receiving the prestigious title.
In a statement, Belfast City Council said: "ECOC 2023 is a highly competitive process and we will not give a detailed comment at this stage, especially as the timing is so crucial and ahead of the decision by the judging panel and the pitch that is taking place on November 28.
"We are disappointed that the BBC would choose to publish details of a confidential competitive document and potentially put at risk the chances of securing this important accolade that could bring significant and once in a lifetime opportunities."
It is understood that a shortlist is likely to be announced by the end of this year.