Could new Banksy works help seaside spot become the next UK City of Culture?

Several works recently sprayed in the area by street artist "may be an endorsement", Great Yarmouth Borough Council says

Street artist Banksy recently carried out his “spraycation”, creating ten works across the East Anglia region Banksy / Instagram

Street artist Banksy recently carried out his “spraycation”, creating ten works across the East Anglia region Banksy / Instagram

Twenty places across the UK are in the running for the next UK City of Culture title, including Great Yarmouth and East Suffolk where street artist Banksy carried out his “spraycation”, creating ten works across the East Anglia region.

Other bidders vying for the year-long arts festival include Wolverhampton and the city of Newport in south Wales. Groups of towns and larger areas have also been able to apply for the title resulting in applications from the Tay Cities region in East Scotland; Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon in Northern Ireland and the entire county of Cornwall.

The 20 bidders will be reduced to an initial longlist in the coming weeks and then cut down further to a final shortlist in early 2022. The winner is due to be announced in May 2022. Nationwide arts festivals are one way of accelerating regeneration in neglected areas, drawing public and private investment. Hull was awarded the title in 2017, reaping £220m in investment according to a 2018 report from the University of Hull.

This year, Coventry took the crown, hosting this year’s Turner prize at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum (1 October-12 January 2022). Coventry is “providing a blueprint for how culture can be at the heart of social and economic recovery”, says the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which has provided £15.5m for the event.

Banksy‘s recent coastal creations include the text Go Big Or Go Home daubed on the side of a small building in Merrivale Model Village and a mural of a rat sipping a cocktail on a deckchair in Lowestoft, which was later defaced.

Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft in East Anglia have applied jointly for the UK City of Culture status in 2025 Photo: Jeremy Thompson

In a statement, Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: "It would be nice to think this may be an endorsement of the joint City of Culture bid... and given the choice of locations being Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft, then this may be the case.” Banksy has not commented on the images nor the City of Culture bid, but posted a film on Instagram showing him travelling around the coastal region in a camper van, alighting on different locations.

Meanwhile, the nationwide festival of creativity, dubbed the “Festival of Brexit”, is still due to go ahead next year. The UK-wide event, known as Festival UK*2022, aims to champion the country’s innovation and creativity, and will receive £120m government funding.

Ten large-scale projects have been commissioned for different spaces across the UK, forming part of the final festival programme; the winning teams include Turner prizewinners Assemble, who are promising “an immersive experience exploring the wonder of the human mind through architecture, neuroscience, technology, light and sound” in collaboration with the University of Sussex and the University of Glasgow.

Another team, run by Royal Holloway (University of London) and the National Film and Television School, will present an “immersive storytelling [experience] asking who are we? Where did we come from and where are we headed?” This year, Assemble received a “commissioning fee” of £112,417 while Royal Holloway was awarded £61,063, according to funding details posted online.


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