UK City of Culture costs and returns

By on 22/09/2010 in Factsheets

Please see below a outline for costs of Birmingham’s UK City of Culture bid.

The final cost for the UK City of Culture bid was £191,177 - a figure that has already been recouped more than 20 times over.

The bidding process was a massive opportunity to promote and market the city of Birmingham as a great place to live, work and visit. Media coverage alone for the bid was worth £4 million.

We also received tremendous support from local media partners with 'in kind' support (billboards, airtime and advertising space) worth over £400,000.

There were well over 70 million opportunities to see or hear Birmingham's campaign. This campaign promoted the city both regionally and nationally, boosting not just our image but our economy as well.

A number of our arts organisations reported record ticket sales over the last six months as Birmingham culture has been in the media spotlight.

Our bid was all about listening to the people of Birmingham to find out what cultural activities they currently undertake and what they would like to do in the future.

Our community engagement and consultation at major events alone reached a potential audience of 250,000. We also undertook a programme of visits to religious, cultural and neighbourhood groups.

Online we worked extensively with the people of Birmingham through blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Over 7,500 people took part in our 24-hour Big Culture Blog, while over 1,000 messages of support were seen by the judging panel as we pitched the final bid in June.

Cllr Martin Mullaney said: “The figures clearly show the city really benefited from the bidding process and we recouped our investment 20 times over.

“The campaign offered a massive opportunity to promote and market the city of Birmingham as a great place to live, work and visit. Media coverage alone for the bid was worth over £4 million.

“Add to that the fact that a number of our arts organisations reported record ticket sales as Birmingham culture was in the media spotlight.”


The total cost of the bid to Birmingham City Council was £191,177

Use of these funds

  • Marketing: £88,513 (plus in kind support of £443,388)
  • Projects: £72,354 (includes artists and arts projects which engaged the public, these projects contributed to our existing targets for improving participation in culture, enabled us to consult on the draft cultural strategy and involved residents in proposing ideas for the bid)
  • Research: £22,000 (see below)
  • Staff and office: £2410 (stationery etc)
  • Miscellaneous: £5900 (includes branded merchandise see below)

Amount spent on consultancy

  • Jaba £22,000 – research and development of model for measurement of cultural participation and impact on individuals.  This work has informed the creation of a new cultural strategy for Birmingham and will continue to inform the commissioning of culture during the lifetime of the strategy (2010-15).  It was also used to support the targets which were given in the bid document.
  • FEI £7,125 – development of festival business plan and final bid edit.  This work was undertaken to revise the existing business plan for the proposed Autumn Festival to demonstrate how it could be delivered more efficiently as part of a City of Culture year in 2013.  

Amount spent on advertising/publicity

The amount spent was £88,513 which included marketing of cultural activities in the city, not just marketing of the bid – Media impact of campaign valued at £4m.   Throughout the planning of the bid, we gained best value from our investment by considering how it could help to deliver existing programmes or targets.  The advertising and publicity costs included work which was linked to our existing targets of improving the profile of Birmingham as a great place to visit, which was planned to take place in any case.

Amount spent on branded merchandise

The amount spent on branded merchandise was £475  – 500 branded pens – branded with the cultural strategy brand, not City of Culture, in order to lengthen the lifetime of their use.

Salaries and titles of those specifically hired by the council to deal with the bid


Number of (other) employees involved in the project

The majority of the work was undertaken by a working group of staff drawn from services across the Environment & Culture Directorate and a steering group for the project also included the Chief Executive and representatives from Children’s Services and Development Directorate.

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