Winning City of Culture status would be “the icing on the cake” for a city that is already witnessing exciting development plans, according to Perth city executives.

Speaking after the formal launch of the 2021 UK City of Culture Competition on Thursday, Culture Perth and Kinross, the charitable trust set up to deliver and develop museum and library services in Perth & Kinross, described Perth’s bid as “extremely strong”.

Helen Smout, Chief Executive of Culture Perth and Kinross, said:

“We’re excited that the UK City of Culture competition has officially launched and we believe our bid is an extremely strong one. Perth received city status in 2012. The cultural development plans and our application for City of Culture status are the latest steps on the road to putting Perth, deservedly, on the map.”

Charles Kinnoull, Chair of the Board of Culture Perth and Kinross, said:

“Here in Perth we have beauty, history and geographical location on our side. We also have a commitment by Perth and Kinross Council and Culture Perth and Kinross to regenerate the region’s cultural offerings. The City of Culture bid is a natural extension of this, and gaining City of Culture status would be the icing on the cake for us.”

Perth & Kinross Council Leader Ian Miller said:

“In our bid we have focussed on the ability to present a world-class cultural programme and the extent to which communities are engaged and gaining long-term benefits. These are two areas where Perth can excel: we have a hugely active cultural community and will be developing outstanding venues in the Theatre, Perth Museum and Art Gallery and City Hall – with our request to loan the Stone of Destiny front and centre of the programme.

“We have had fantastic community support and input, through our community cultural celebration, online and face to face. With past experience of hosting large scale event such as the Ryder Cup, with its successful legacy programme, we know we can pull this off.”

Perth officially launched its intention to bid in August 2016 and the announcement has gathered increasing support from the local community and beyond.

The Perth 2021 bid is based on the Fair City’s strong cultural identity and heritage. A campaign to bring the Stone of Destiny to Perth is a pivotal part of the bid, which also showcases the city’s unique assets, including Perth Concert Hall, Perth Theatre, Perth Museum and Art Gallery and Perth City Hall.

The prestigious 2021 UK City of Culture title is a chance to use arts and culture as a catalyst for a city’s economic and social regeneration. Running every four years, the competition is also an opportunity to raise the profile of a city’s creative reputation right across the country.

Perth’s bid – which also seeks to highlight a thriving arts and cultural offering across the entire Perth and Kinross region – is supported by Dundee City Council, which is bidding to be European Capital of Culture for 2023.

The 2021 team also has the backing of regeneration guru Wayne Hemingway. A Design Council Trustee and Professor in The Built Environment Department of Northumbria University, Wayne is, more importantly, known for his innovative and creative approaches to regeneration, housing and culture, making him an ideal ambassador for what Perth2021 is trying to achieve.

Commenting on Thursday’s formal launch, UK Government Minister Andrew Dunlop said:

“The UK City of Culture competition is a fantastic opportunity for the winning city to really put itself on the map. The title is a unique opportunity to drive artistic innovation, bring in visitors, and boost regeneration and economic growth. It would be great to bring the title to Scotland, and I urge Scottish towns and cities to get involved.

Phil Redmond, chair of the competition’s independent advisory panel, said:

“Having been on the journey from Liverpool 2008, Derry-Londonderry 2013 and now Hull 2017, I am delighted other cities will have the opportunity to bid and build upon the award for 2021.

“The launch of the 2021 competition comes in the same month Hull kicks off its year as UK City of Culture 2017. Derry-Londonderry was the first UK City of Culture in 2013.”

Cities have till the end of January to register interest, with final bids due by the end of April. A shortlist will be announced in July and the winning city in December.