THE NEXT generation is being given the chance to shape Sunderland’s City of Culture Bid, as the competition moves into a critical stage.

Sunderland 2021 is looking to bring together a team of young people from across the city, aged between 14 and 18, to learn about the city’s bid, and to help steer the content of the submission, which is due to reach judges towards the end of April.

Team 21, as the group is being called, will see young people act as advisors to the bid writing team, help to champion the project among their peers, and develop projects that will be included in the city’s final bid.

Rachel Hamer, who is Team 21 coordinator at Sunderland 2021, said: “We are determined that the City of Culture Bid we submit in April will be one that captures the hopes and ambitions of the city’s young people, who will be coming of age in 2021, when – hopefully – we will celebrate our year of culture.

“In order to make this bid achieve that, we know that we must bring young people in on the bid development, and reflect the things they most want to see in the city.  I am really looking forward to getting Team 21 in place, and would urge anyone who thinks this might be for them to get in touch with me.”

The team of young people will not only help to shape the bid, but they will also gain skills and experience in the process.  Taking part should help them to increase their knowledge of the city and its cultural sector; develop leadership skills; learn how to organise cultural events for other young people and they will also have the chance to go on trips to see local and national arts events.

As part of Team 21, they will also have the opportunity to complete a bronze or silver Arts Award, a fully accredited qualification.

Rebecca Ball, Sunderland 2021’s bid director, said: “Sunderland’s entry into the UK City of Culture competition is about our young people.  It is about creating a city that today’s young people – and future generations – can be proud of; a city they want to stay in.

“Team 21 will play an absolutely critical role in the development of the bid, and – if we successfully make it through the first round – will also help to formulate a firmer plan about the kind of year we will deliver if we win the title.  Team 21 is open to all young people  aged 14 -18 –  from all areas of the city – the key is that they’re passionate about Sunderland, and want to make a contribution to the future of the city.”

The City of Culture competition will see places submit their bid by April 28, with the competition coming to a close at the end of this year.  Judges will select a winner from Coventry, Hereford, Paisley, Perth, Portsmouth, St Davids, Stoke, Sunderland, Swansea, Warrington and Wells, who have all declared that they will be bidding.

City of Culture status can deliver a multi-million-pound boost for the successful city. This year, Hull celebrates being the UK’s City of Culture, and it is estimated that the title will deliver £60 million to Hull’s economy this year alone. The city has already seen a £1 billion boost in investment since winning the title in 2013.

The first meeting of Team 21 will take place on March 23.  Anyone, aged 14-18 and from Sunderland, who is interested in attending should contact Rachel Hamer at  For more information on Arts Award that Team 21 will achieve, visit