Lancashire is bidding to become the first British county to become UK City of Culture, after reviving a previously stalled bid.
The plans had previously appeared doomed after the county council withdrew £22 million of funding support last month, but organisers decided to press ahead and register their interest just before the deadline.
Chair of Lancashire 2025 Tony Attard said the prospects in store if Lancashire were to gain the title were “so compelling we simply could not give up on it”.
MPs from Lancashire had grouped together to criticise the withdrawal of funding by the county council after two years of work on the project, arguing that a successful bid would be worth £300 million for the county. This figure was based on the financial benefits Hull received from holding the status in 2017.
Despite the main funding withdrawal, a smaller grant of £620,000 will be honoured and the bid is still being backed by many city and borough councils, such as Blackpool, Preston and Blackburn with Darwen.
The long list of candidates will be announced in September, but if Lancashire were to succeed it could bring a huge boost for the arts in the north west, not least theatre, prompting more people to take acting classes and join a local theatre company.
At present the UK city of culture is Coventry, but the north-west has long been seen as one of the most vibrant centres of culture in the UK, something that has been emphasised by the move of much of the BBC to Salford.
Liverpool enjoyed particular benefits as the European Capital of Culture in 2008, as shown by a Liverpool University study.
This was not only felt through increased tourism and enhanced perceptions of the city, but specific growth of the arts in the area, such as a ten per cent rise in arts audiences between 2006 and 2008.