City's strong mixture of old and new
What does "culture" mean? We ask the question because Leicester is launching a bid to become the UK's next City of Culture in 2017. We probably all have slightly different definitions of what we mean by the word culture. However, the Collins Dictionary defines it as: "The artistic and social pursuits, expression and tastes valued by a society or class."
The UK City of Culture then should be a place which is able to offer outstanding and highly valued artistic and social pursuits. And, given that this title is a national one, it should also be a place with a cultural mixture which represents and reflects the values of modern Britain.
On any assessment, Leicester has a very strong case.
We have seen in recent months the city's long and rich history gain national attention through the remarkable discovery of King Richard III's remains. Visitors to Leicester can learn about the king's life and death at a pivotal point in history, as well as the archaeological quest to locate his last resting place.
It is a story which has captured the imagination of people across the world and gives Leicester a cultural dimension that few other cities can match.
In addition, Leicester is not only a very old city, but also a very modern one. And this is best reflected in its multi-cultural community.
The city is home to many festivals and events reflecting the diversity of its population. The Diwali festival, for instance, is celebrated by thousands of people from many backgrounds. It is a demonstration of multi-culturalism in action.
There are many other cultural highlights: the huge success of the Curve theatre; Dave's Comedy Festival which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year; the classical music programme and other events at De Montfort Hall; and the dramatic recreation of the Easter story through Christ in the Centre, to name a few.
All of these elements demonstrate a thriving and varied cultural programme which appeals to a broad range of tastes.
Leicester has a great story to tell: through its history; its modernity; and its sheer range of venues and events.
We think the case for it to become the UK City of Culture is a compelling one and we wish all those involved in this bid every success.