VIDEO: Ospreys backing Swansea Bay City of Culture 2017 bid
THE Ospreys have swapped the scrum for a cwtch to back Swansea Bay’s campaign to become UK City of Culture 2017.
Players took time out of training to become the latest in a string of famous faces to support the “Cwtch the Bid” team, in the week the region submitted its final bid to the judging pane.
Swansea Bay — which embraces Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot — is up against Hull, Leicester and Dundee to win the prestigious title.
Ospreys captain, Alun Wyn Jones, who led the British and Irish Lions to victory in the final Test in Australia this summer — said being crowned City of Culture would be a tremendous boost for the whole region.
He said: “Just as I have worked hard to succeed in sport I know there are people from all over the Swansea Bay area doing excellent work in all sorts of cultural activities.
“I am happy to support the campaign and would encourage everyone who cares about the region to back the bid.
“The whole region needs to create an enthusiastic atmosphere and get behind the bid. Beating the opposition would give us a lasting legacy.”
Fellow Lions hero and pride of Taibach RFC Richard Hibbard also gave his backing to the bid.
He said: “Swansea Bay is a great place for sport and culture. Winning the UK City of Culture 2017 would be like reaching the Heineken Cup Final — I am sure that with the support of the whole region we can win the title.”
To show their support for the bid, Ospreys players wore special “Cwtch the Bid” T-shirts for their warm-up ahead of Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 game against Ulster at the Liberty Stadium — with the pictures beamed live to rugby fans around the world.
Swansea Bay’s bid had a very special send off last week from Port Talbot actor Michael Sheen, who came back to Wales to bid the document farewell as it was sent to the judging panel.
The four competing areas now have to give a final presentation on their bids to judges — including TV executive and Brookside creator Phil Redmond — in Derry/Londonderry next month. Swansea Bay is the last of the quartet to give its presentation on November 15, with a decision on the winner expected the following week.
Among the highlights being pencilled in for 2017 in Swansea Bay are major national surfing and skating festivals, open air theatre performances across the bay region, graffiti workshops for youngsters, and a series of public lectures and masterclasses from leading figures from the worlds of science, entertainment and the arts.
There will also be a festival for unsigned musicians, a major history project for children revolving around the area’s industrial heritage, and a link-up with Welsh communities across the world, especially in the 28 villages, towns and cities around the globe that share the name Swansea.
Plans are also afoot to bring a major international rugby touring side to the region for a game, and it is hoped that Swansea Bay will host the 2017 Turner Prize — arguably the most prestigious award for contemporary art in the world.