Harrogate’s Great Exhibition of the North bid team have admitted their disappointment at being overlooked to host the prestigious event.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) revealed on Friday, July 29, that Blackpool, Bradford, Sheffield and Newcastle and Gateshead had made the shortlist to host the cultural showcase in 2018.
The Great Exhibition of the North is a two-month celebration to showcase the great creative, cultural and design sectors across the whole of the region.
Despite not making the shortlist, Sharon Canavar, spokesperson for the bid team, said their application received positive feedback from the Great Exhibition Board.
She said: “We are disappointed of course but also, very proud that Harrogate had the ambition, vision and passion to position itself amongst such major competition.
“Despite being small, we do punch above our weight with our cultural offer, which is something I hope we continue to champion, and work towards building on in the future.”
Harrogate’s Bid Team consisted of representatives from Harrogate International Centre, Harrogate International Festivals, Harrogate Theatre, the Mercer Gallery, and Harrogate Borough Council.
In their bid, submitted at the end of June, the team outlined a series of ambitious plans should they be chosen to stage the event, and declared themselves a “natural host town”.
Despite costing a potential £12m to host the event, the leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Coun Richard Cooper said the forecasted economic impact of the exhibition for Harrogate would be £75m.
He said that the bid was “just the start” of his plans to promote the Harrogate district further afield and is hopeful of bringing more cultural and sporting events to the town and district in the future.
Mrs Canavar echoed Coun Cooper’s positive sentiments, adding that the bid had helped to put Harrogate “on the map”.
She said: “It’s easy to be critical, or even complacent, but it is important to keep being ambitious to ensure the district has a robust local economy, which is so dependent on its leisure, tourism, conference and cultural offer.”