Business and community leaders in Derry were urged  to strengthen their  support for the city’s bid for UK Capital of Culture, at a special lunch held by the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, Derry City Council and urban regeneration company Ilex on Friday 12th March in the City Hotel. 

 The message  is that people need to step forward and act as “champions” for their city and its wealth of creative and artistic talent.   The  key speaker was Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster who said the City of Culture competition was a “fantastic opportunity” to showcase the city’s cultural offering to an international audience and “to display its enviable wealth of creative and artistic talent.”

  “The City of Culture initiative provides the platform to increase interest in cultural activities, attract new visitors and market NI to new audiences,” she added.  The Minister said she fully supported the bid and praised the City Council, Ilex and local arts and community groups for the “work and effort which has been put in to get to this stage of the competition.”  


Special guestUS Economic Envoy to NI, Declan Kelly, told the gathering that many people across the North West “were at the forefront of showcasing Northern Ireland’s economic viability to the United States. “ 

“Creative initiatives like the City of Culture bid will complement these continued inward investment efforts and I applaud the work of local political leaders, ILEX, and those in the private sector”, says Mr Kelly. Together you are demonstrating to business decision makers abroad that the region you represent is open for business”.

  “We very much appreciate the support of Declan Kelly and our politicians as we prepare to submit the final bid in May”, said Mayor Paul Fleming.  “Our ambition is to create a step change for the city and achieving this accolade will create many platforms for showcasing local and international talent while encouraging creativity in our everyday lives, in our communities, with business and in our local and international partnerships. We are confident that 2013 will be our year”.

 Chairman of urban regeneration company Ilex, Sir Roy McNulty said today’s event “has brought together individuals and organisations from right across Northern Ireland and beyond who are keen to play their part to ensure we win this accolade. City of Culture 2013 is about ambition; it’s about confidence in ourselves and raising our game. Ultimately, it would help us present a more positive profile of the city and region internationally, and significantly enhance the city’s regeneration plans’”.

 Chamber President Jim Sammon said winning the bid would be of immense economic value to the city and to all of Northern Ireland.  “Cork had a 38% increase in visitor numbers, which generated £322m to the local economy, and Liverpool saw business rise by 10%. So everyone must pull together now to ensure that we win.”


 Media queries to: Trish Hegarty: mob: +353 86 1740057; tel: +353 74 9381803.