KEIGHLEY will play a central role in Bradford’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2025.

Arts professionals and volunteers were heavily involved in talks about whether to seek the accolade and will continue to shape the formal application.

Keighley Arts & Film Festival (KAFF) and Keighley Creative Space have shared discussions with representatives from leading Bradford theatre, dance and art organisations.

KAFF fundraising coordinator Jan Smithies said the organisation – which plans its first major festival this autumn – was delighted about the recent formal announcement of Bradford’s City of Culture bid.

She said: “A number of people based in Keighley have been part of the discussions which helped shape and influence the district’s decision to Oscar bid. They will ensure that Keighley will continue to be a significant geographical focus for the further development of the bid.

“Places such as Liverpool and Hull have clearly demonstrated what an impact investment in arts and culture can have on economic development, regeneration, creativity and public enjoyment, and engagement with new arts opportunities.”

Jan said KAFF and Keighley Creative Space were working with other District Partners on other funding bids for projects to help get local people involved in arts and cultural beyond the Festival weekend.

Keighley has a long tradition in the arts, dating back to the mid-1800s when the Brontë sisters wrote their famous novels in Haworth.

The town and surrounding area has been used for filming many times, from blockbuster movies The Railway Children and Yanks in the 1970s to recent films and TV series such as The Limehouse Golem, Peaky Blinders and Swallows and Amazons.

In 2017 Haworth Main Street became a film set for the BBC’s Bronte biopic To Walk Invisible, with a replica Haworth Parsonage built on Penistone Hill. In recent years Keighley has developed its own film festival, RATMA (River Aire Ten Minute Amateur), attracting entries from across the globe.

Keighley also has a flourishing music scene, thanks to organisations such as Keighley Musicians Centre, the Exchange Arts Centre and Jam On Top music studios.

The title of UK City of Culture is awarded every four years by the Government, and brings millions of pounds of UK investment.

Bradford’s bid, backed by Bradford Council and in competition with Luton, Lancashire, Southampton and the Tees Valley, will be driven by a newly-formed Cultural Place Partnership.

The partnership believes a successful bid could act as a catalyst for culture-led regeneration, potentially reaping significant cultural, social and economic benefits, as it did for Hull, the 2017 City of Culture.

The bid will also form part of the council’s plans for a new Cultural Strategy for 2020 to 2030, to be announced later this year.

Council leader Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, chairman of the culture Place Partnership, said that in recent years Bradford had become the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, established a nationally renowned literature festival, and transformed the city centre with the City Park, the £9.5m restoration of St George’s Hall and plans to open the former Odeon as music venue Bradford Live.

She said now was the time to build on such developments and “show Bradford off to the world” while benefitting every corner of the district.

She said: “Culture makes a vital social and economic contribution to the city. It promotes us to the nation and the world as a vibrant, creative, confident place to visit, live and work in.

I’m also a great believer in culture and art as a means of personal transformation - it raises aspirations, enables us to explore skills and connects us with others.

“We’re a big city, in the heart of the North. If you want to make a statement about the future of this country, Bradford is the place to invest in. We have global diversity, fantastic landscapes and a cultural offer that has grown enormously in recent years.”