Harrogate has not made the shortlist to host the Great Exhibition of the North despite praise for submitting a strong bid.
Harrogate faced stiff competition from major cities; the shortlisted four are Blackpool, Bradford, Sheffield and Newcastle-Gateshead.
The government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport, who made the decision on the shortlist, will announce the final winning venue this autumn.
Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, said: “Culture can bring enormous benefits to communities by driving regeneration, promoting tourism and increasing life chances.
“I am pleased that so many towns and cities from across the region want to host the Exhibition. Harrogate submitted a very strong bid and, while I know there will be disappointment on not making the final four, I want to continue working together to ensure the best possible Exhibition in 2018 that benefits the whole country.”
The exhibition is part of Government’s investment in the North of England, and follows funding for the Factory Manchester, and Hull UK City of Culture 2017.
Key factors of the host’s criteria were to engage a wide range of audiences, and to contribute to the Government’s objective to maximise economic potential in the knowledge economy and creative sectors of the North.
Sharon Canavar, spokesperson for the Bid Team, said: “We are disappointed of course but also, very proud that Harrogate had the ambition, vision and passion to position itself amongst such major competition. Despite being small, we do punch above our weight with our cultural offer, which is something I hope we continue to champion, and work towards building on in the future.”
Harrogate’s Bid Team consisted of representatives from Harrogate International Centre, Harrogate International Festivals, Harrogate Theatre, the Mercer Gallery, and Harrogate Borough Council.
County Councillor Richard Cooper said: “Whilst we would have wished to have won the bid it has been a great opportunity to promote our district further afield. And this is just the start. We will work with organisations like Harrogate International Festivals, Harrogate Theatre, Visit Harrogate and retailers to bring more and more cultural and sporting events to our fantastic town and district. We have already brought the Tour de France to Harrogate, the Great Yorkshire Run and the Tour de Yorkshire. Our district is the home of the Great Yorkshire Show, Bettys and Ripon Cathedral. That is why we are an attractive place for events which provide the visitors who stay in our hotels, spend in our shops and underpin thousands of local jobs.”
Positive feedback on the bid included Harrogate’s robust infrastructure and track record, and the Board was impressed by the partners and support the Bid Team attracted.
Sharon added: “I want to thank all the brilliant, positive support for our bid – not just from those who worked hard on the Bid Team, but our vocal supporters including Cllr Richard Cooper and Wallace Sampson, as well as so many local businesses and residents in the dstrict, who got behind the idea. It’s easy to be critical, or even complacent, but it is important to keep being ambitious to ensure the district has a robust local economy, which is so dependent on its leisure, tourism, conference and cultural offer. The bid helped put Harrogate on the map, and we’ll continue to work hard. We have learnt a great deal from this process, and it will inform opportunities in the future for major events’ strategies.”
Wallace Sampson, Chief Executive of Harrogate Borough Council, said: “We can be proud that we were serious contenders.”
The Great Exhibition of the North will take place in July 2018.