… and why you should too.
When Southampton agreed to bid for City of Culture 2025, we had no hesitation in wanting to help back the city to thrive, grow and be the city it should be.
Southampton has always had a disjointed view of itself, it is as full of people who like to bring it down as much as the many who want to raise it up. It has never seemed to be what it could be, it’s like a city in hiding – a city that feels like it should apologise. It feels like a city that should be very different. Working closely in Southampton we see the cracks and well as the shine: an industrial and people port, it was bombed in WW2, yet it’s so close to the green of the ancient New Forest and the blue of the Solent with its unique double tide, it’s got a big country vibe. But Southampton seems to exist almost alone, behind and despite, these wonderful natural treasures and forever in the shadow of the Titanic disaster.
What is not generally seen is that, under the shadow cast over it, Southampton is doing what it has always done: building and innovating and getting on with things. It’s a quietly understated culture of great complexity. And that complexity is what makes it so hard for Southampton to decide what it truly is or could be.
Sport is celebrated. Time in the Premier League playing football with the ‘big boys’. And now the ‘big girls’ are on their way up to the Women’s Super League. Sport is on a global stage, but being in a mid-to-low table position is not a thing to celebrate too loudly. And who really knows that the World Wide Web and the Spitfire were invented here. For a city that is a gateway to the world, we look out and we look in – this time it’s time to stay, look forward, and upward.
There is a tapestry of wonderfully diverse cultures in Southampton. There is a sense of inclusiveness and acceptance of other: nations, ethnicity, diversity, gender fluidity – tolerance, acceptance of difference. This inclusiveness is in our “city of neighborhoods” but those neighbourhoods, mostly operate independently of each other, split and fragmented from a whole – but if given the opportunity, we can come together and we can shine.
So – it was an easy decision for us to back the bid and join the Gateway Club firstly as Patrons and then as Members, so we could get more closely involved in helping the city and the BID, to help share ideas and create a combined voice. There are many of us who are willing to help, who want us to get together, pull together and stand up for Southampton.
The impact that a UK City of Culture win would have on Southampton is immeasurable. A complete game-changer for the whole of the southern central coast and inland too – we want to be able to say we helped and were part of the team which brought such an opportunity to become a city without apology and with every reason to stand up and stand out.
Sue Thomas & Tim Miller – Directors, Thomas Miller Creative