Theatre in Wales

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Cardiff 2008 team 'shocked' at decision     

THEY could not disguise their disappointment as Culture Minister Tessa Jowell announced live on TV yesterday that Liverpool is European Capital of Culture 2008, but the team behind Cardiff's bid have vowed that their good work will not go to waste.

Instead many of the projects and ideas will be used as part of the 2005 celebrations marking Cardiff's centenary as a city and its 50th anniversary as a European capital.

The team will also work closely with the other cities shortlisted for the title - Newcastle-Gateshead, Birmingham, Bristol and Oxford - to promote the best in British culture.

And Swansea now wants to form a partnership with its neighbouring city in a bid to make South Wales a leading European cultural location.

Until Ms Jowell's announcement live on the BBC Breakfast programme at 8.10am, there was a mixture of excitement and tension at the Cardiff 2008 offices, which were packed with members of Wales's cultural community and famous faces such as Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson.

As Liverpool was announced as the winning city there were a few gasps of shock before a smattering of applause and shouts from the back of the room for three cheers for the Cardiff team.

Until the very end, Cardiff 2008 chief executive Lynne Williams had the utmost confidence in her bid.

"I was really sure that it was between Cardiff and Newcastle-Gateshead," she said. "I was really shocked when she announced that it was Liverpool. We felt we had convinced the judges that we had that little bit extra.

"But now we will focus on the 2005 celebrations as we already have the programme in place. The true legacy of the bidding process are the projects we now have right across Wales.

"Some people think it was just a beauty contest but we have two years of work which has resulted in a nine-year business plan, which is fantastic to have.

"I honestly feel this has brought the people of Cardiff and the rest of Wales closer together.

"Liverpool is very close to us so we will be doing a lot of work with them, and all of the shortlisted cities have been talking about joint celebrations as there are so many projects out there."

Swansea Council leader Lawrence Bailey is writing to Cardiff's leader Russell Goodway urging him to form a new cultural partnership. He believes the two cities can build upon their cultural heritage and future developments together.

While Cardiff has the Millennium Stadium, world-class organisations like Welsh National Opera, a thriving football team and plans to open the Wales Millennium Centre, Swansea has a new national pool, a national waterfront museum, its own ballet company and the lasting legacy of Dylan Thomas.

"Cardiff put together a very impressive campaign on behalf of Wales," Mr Bailey said. "It is vital that Cardiff now continues to develop the Wales-wide relationships it built during that campaign. We want to continue working with Cardiff to promote Wales as a leading cultural location in Britain and Europe.

"Wales has not lost out, it now has a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the world what it has to offer. We must grasp that opportunity."
Western Mail  
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Monday, May 05, 2003back



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