WARRINGTON is preparing to announce itself on the 'world stage' and hopes to unlock millions in funding after launching its ambitious 2021 City of Culture bid.

Coventry, Hereford, Paisley, Perth, Portsmouth, St Davids and the Hundred of Dewisland, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swansea, Warrington and Wells have all formally entered the competition for the third UK City of Culture.

The initial bid stage is expected to cost around £100,000, with the council funding it by using a one-off allocation from reserves, as well as support from partners.

As part of the work, a feasibility study will be conducted into the business case for a theatre.

The majority of funding will be spent on activities that will accelerate activities associated with the town's 'existing cultural framework'.

It is estimated that being the UK City of Culture 2017 will deliver a £60 million boost to Hull's economy this year – the city has also seen a £1 billion investment since winning the title in 2013.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is committing £3 million to the holder of the title from 2021 onwards to boost heritage.

Cllr Dan Price, chairman of the Warrington 2021 City of Culture board, had been leading a panel of experts to decide if the town should throw its hat into the ring for the honour following the damning 2015 Royal Society of Arts (RSA) heritage report.

He said: "We're bidding for City of Culture because we are ambitious for Warrington – and why wouldn't we be?

"Not only are we transitioning to become a new city, but over the next few years, we're spending more than £100 million improving the town centre and culture is fundamental to this transformation.

"There's a strong economic case for investing in culture.

"Hull's brought in £30 million of extra funding and more than double that indirectly – just imagine what could be achieved in a thriving economy like Warrington.

"We've got a lot going on – we've just not been great at shouting about it.

"The initial response has been brilliant and I'd encourage everyone to get behind the bid.

"Now's our chance to tell the country what Warrington's really made of."

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has been discussing the major benefits his city has enjoyed since landing the European Capital of Culture title in 2008 with council figures.

He said it 'transformed Liverpool forever'.

"It placed our city on the world stage and propelled our renaissance to a whole new level," he added.

"The legacy of the title can be seen every day by those who live in and visit our city.

"It's great to see Warrington is embarking on its own cultural journey through the UK City of Culture bid.

"We know how transformative it can be, uniting communities, unlocking the potential of people and places, driving tourism and igniting confidence and pride."

Delivering a Heritage Hub will be central to Warrington's cultural programme, while the council will bring forward the major elements of its cultural programme and be working to make them 'even more ambitious' to help raise the borough's profile among potential funders.

In the coming months, the authority will be holding workshop events with artists across the borough and public spaces will be animated with new illustrations.

A shortlist of the bidding areas will be confirmed in the summer before the winning area is announced in December.

If Warrington is shortlisted, further details surrounding events and plans will be released.

There would be a range of events in the run-up to 2021, celebrating key landmarks in Warrington's history and helping to build 'cultural momentum'.

These include exhibitions and events programmes, linking with major arts organisations to mark the 50th anniversary of Warrington New Town, the 170th anniversary of Warrington Museum and the 150th anniversary of Warrington Museum's large art gallery, which all take place in 2018.

The HLF believes landing the 2021 City of Culture title will allow the winning area to 'showcase its heritage to the world'.

Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital and culture, announced the 11 areas to have formally entered the competition last Thursday, March 9.

Ros Kerslake, HLF chief executive, welcomed the selections and highlighted the £3 million funding boost to the title holder from 2021 onwards.

"This list shows there is clearly a great deal of enthusiasm among the UK's cities for celebrating their unique culture," he said.

"Heritage, much of which has benefitted over the past 23 years from National Lottery funding, is so important to a city's identity, as well as making a huge contribution to tourism, jobs and the economy.

"Building on the support we have given to Hull 2017, this funding will allow the UK City of Culture 2021 to showcase its heritage to the world."

Mr Hancock said UK City of Culture is a 'fantastic opportunity' for towns and cities to 'celebrate their creativity and use culture as a catalyst for economic growth'.

He added: "I am delighted to see so many bids from across the country, showing how many areas recognise the important role culture can play in the development and regeneration of communities.

"UK City of Culture helps boost tourism and raises the profile of arts and culture.

"The exciting funding commitment from the HLF today is yet another incentive for towns to secure this prestigious title."