Culture. Capital. Cities.

UK City of Culture 2021 / European Capital of Culture 2023


Conference at HOME, Manchester – 11 February 2016

To bid or not to bid!? 2016 sees the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. It is also the last year before the competitions are announced for the 2021 UK City of Culture and 2023 European Capital of Culture (ECoC).

Euclid and Inside Track have joined forces to create a conference with a group of outstanding speakers with considerable experience in bidding for and delivering both the UK City of Culture (UKCC) and the European Capital of Culture (ECoC). We will also hear from at least one representative from a city whose bid did not ultimately succeed but who can show how involvement in the bidding process accelerated the city’s creative development and sense of civic togetherness.

The conference will be held at HOME in Manchester on Thursday 11 February 2016 and will run from 10.00am to 4.30pm.

UK cities who are thinking of developing an application for either (or even both!) programmes, or those who have already decided to do so, will find their thinking clarified and their inspiration informed by the practicalities, the opportunities and the pitfalls which our speakers will share with you.

Arts organisations with an interest in presenting work during either of these major UK events will also find this event extremely useful in understanding more about the events programme these special years will be developing.

The expert speakers for this event are:

  • Hanns Dietrich Schmidt – ex International Commissioner for Ruhr ECoC 2010 (Germany); adviser on several successful ECoC bids and an expert in preparing for jury presentations
  • Rolf Noras – Director of Culture, Stavanger and Strategic Director Stavanger ECoC 2008; also author of If I Knew Then What I Know Now…. which details the experiences of several ECoCs (a copy of this book will be made available free of charge for delegates attending the conference).
  • Ulrich Fuchs – member of the current ECoC Jury and formerly Deputy Director of Linz ECOC 2009 and Marseilles / Provence ECoC 2013
  • Mike Fitzpatrick and Sheila Deegan – from Limerick – they will talk about the huge impact of delivering Ireland’s first ever National City of Culture in 2014 on Limerick’s confidence, reputation and ambition. Limerick are now one of 3 shortlisted cities in Ireland’s European Capital of Culture 2020 competition and Sheila and Mike will also use the “Living Library” to talk about the lessons they have learned from their involvement in the process
  • Fiona Gasper MBE, Executive Director of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, formerly Executive Producer for the Cultural Programme for Liverpool ECoC 2008
  • Neil Peterson – Head of International Relations and Liverpool Welcome for Liverpool ECoC 2008, and now Director of Inside Track, and adviser to several cities in the UK and Europe on bidding and programme delivery
  • Shona McCarthy – former Chief Executive of Derry UK City of Culture 2013
  • Geoff Rowe MBE – Chief Executive of Big Difference Company and Chair of Leicester’s Cultural Partnership Board
  • Liz Pugh – Walk the Plank – who will talk about delivering “flagship events” and how to connect them to local capacity building
  • Geoffrey Brown – Director of Euclid, and the UK’s leading expert on EU funding for the arts, culture, heritage and the creative industries

A short summary biography for each speaker can be found by clicking here.

The conference speakers will provide specific and practical information on the process of preparing and bidding for these programmes, and will examine a number of key questions including:

  • What is the European Dimension in respect of an ECoC bid?
  • How important is the Concept for an ECoC bid?
  • What does Step Change (in respect of the UKCC) mean in practical terms?
  • How can I connect with local artists in the bidding stage without raising unrealistic expectations?
  • How can I measure the impact?
  • How can I link the bid to the City’s long term strategy and ambitions?
  • How can I best develop events or activities likely to be of interest to a bidding city?
  • What happens if our bid does not succeed?
  • How to avoid some of the most obvious perils and pitfalls

The programme for the day will combine focussed plenary sessions in the morning with a unique “living library” in the afternoon where the speakers will meet with smaller groups delegates to share information and tips on the process of bidding, linking city strategies to cultural programming, developing projects to develop new audiences, understanding the preparation cities need to undertake, and the issues that arts organisations and other stakeholders need to consider if they would like to be part of the programme for one of these events.

The delegate fees are as follows:

  • Local authorities: £190 for the first delegate, £160 for any subsequent delegates
  • Arts organisations and others: £130
  • Connexus members: £90 (note that Connexus membership is £25 for individuals and arts organisations, and £100 for local authorities and universities – you can join at

You can book your place by selecting the appropriate category from the options listed in the left hand menu. Places are limited so book now!

For any enquiries, please contact