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Culture roadshow takes to the streets

Sunderland’s City of Culture Bid has been on a real-life road show, as part of a campaign by major supporters to spread the word.  


The Pulman Group, which has four garages across Sunderland and Durham; Station Taxis; and Sun FM, with its own distinctive electric vehicle, have taken to some of the city’s most well-known landmarks in Sunderland 2021 branded cars, to help raise awareness of the city’s UK City of Culture Bid.

The companies have – between them – taken five City of Culture branded cars, adorned with Sunderland 2021’s colours, to some of the best-known Sunderland landmarks, in a last-ditch bid to catch the eyes of judges, who are expected to make their decision on the competition’s shortlist in a matter of days.

The cars have been touring the city, and turned up in places including the Stadium of Light, the National Glass Centre and Herrington Country Park, in a striking stunt to get people talking about the bid. Each location was attended by a representative from Pulman, Station Taxis, Sun FM and the Sunderland 2021 team to talk to the public about how much the bid means to the city, and the difference it could make to ordinary people’s lives.  

Rebecca Ball, director of Sunderland 2021, said the tour – which it is hoped will be repeated in future – was a fantastic demonstration of citywide support for the bid.  She said: “How incredible to have the backing of some of best known businesses to operate in Sunderland.  

“We are delighted that our supporters are mobilizing figuratively and literally, to show the world just how much we want to win the City of Culture 2021 race.  We have had some remarkable displays of support during the process of developing our bid, and now – as we reach a critical point in the first stage of the competition, we wait with baited breath to see if we have done enough to make the judges shortlist.  This excellent display of support certainly can’t hurt though.”2

The first stage of the bid was submitted on April 28, and it is expected the shortlisted cities will be announced by early July, with the winner eventually named in December.

Chris Slater, Communications Manager at Pulman, said: “The tour was really about using the branded cars that ourselves, Station Taxis and Sun FM have invested in, to maximum effect, hopefully getting the attention of the public, as well as – let’s hope – the judges.  

“We are passionate about this bid, and we believe that this is Sunderland’s time to shine.  Hopefully, the small part we have played in arranging this tour, will demonstrate to judges just how much support the bid has garnered in Sunderland and across the North East.”

Sunderland is up against Coventry, Hereford, Paisley, Perth, Portsmouth, St Davids, Stoke, Swansea, Warrington and Wells, so every bit of support counts.

Station Taxis, Managing Director Trevor Hines said: “We have had tremendous feedback on our Sunderland 2021 branded taxi, so we thought this was an ideal opportunity to further promote the bid across the city and give it the great exposure it deserves.”

Both Station Taxis and Pulman have lent more support to Sunderland 2021, with a commitment of financial and in-kind support that will increase the city’s capacity to deliver a successful programme of events in 2021, if it secures the City of Culture crown.  


Julian Carter, managing director at Sun FM, said: “We have been filling the airwaves with supportive messages about how just amazing this could be for Sunderland if we are shortlisted and dare I say win.

“Sunderland is a unique city and a beautiful one – something we have been reminded of while driving to some of the area’s best-loved venues and spaces to spread the word.  Let’s hope the judges have been watching and see that this really would be an incredibly worthy winner of a competition that has the power to transform Sunderland for the better.”

One of the drop-off points on the city tour was the Foundation of Light, who have been supporting the city’s bid.  

Lesley Spuhler, chief executive at the foundation, said: “We were delighted to play a part in promoting and publicising the bid. We know what a transformational effect a successful bid would have on the whole city and wanted to show our support. I can’t think of a more worthy winner than our city.”

Winning City of Culture status could do wonders for Sunderland’s economy, as it can deliver a multi-million-pound boost for the successful city.  It is estimated that this year’s City of Culture, Hull, will see an extra £60 million to its economy. The city has already seen a £1 billion boost in investment since being announced as the winner of the title in 2013.


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