University of Ulster Chancellor James Nesbitt today welcomed the decision to award Derry-Londonderry the 2013 UK City of Culture.
The city saw off strong opposition from Birmingham, Norwich and Sheffield for the coveted title and will now plan a year long programme of cultural events for 2013.
Dr Nesbitt, who was among a host of celebrities who threw their support behind the campaign, paid tribute to the bid team and other cultural partners across the city – including the University of Ulster – who helped shape the bid.
"This decision confirms what many of us in the province and further afield have known for many years that Derry-Londonderry is a cultural powerhouse," the Chancellor said.
"Whether it is writers like Seamus Heaney and Seamus Deane, songwriters and performers like Phil Coulter or the Undertones, artists like Willie Doherty, filmmakers like Margo Harkin and Tom Collins or actors like Amanda Burton, Roma Downey and Bronagh Gallagher, the city has asserted a huge influence on the arts internationally.
"It is great to see that creativity and talent being recognised and rewarded and I know the University is looking forward to playing its part in a programme of events which will do Derry-Londonderry and the province proud."
The Dean of Academic Development on the Magee campus, Professor Deirdre Heenan also paid tribute to the team behind the bid.
"This is a phenomenal achievement for the city and a fitting reward for an intelligent, innovative and inspired campaign," she said.
"From the Nerve Centre's uplifting Legenderry 'Voices' film to the bid's smart use of social media and iPhone apps to the impressive roll call of global cultural, sporting and religious ambassadors such as Gabriel Byrne, Brendan Gleeson, Snow Patrol, our own Chancellor James Nesbitt and our honorary graduate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, this was a first class effort involving all sections of the community.
"The City of Culture year will provide a massive cultural and economic boost and will have an enormous impact on the next generation of artists, musicians, actors, dancers, writers, filmmakers and games designers in the city whose skills are being honed in places like the Foyle Arts Centre on the Magee campus.
"I have no doubt Derry will carry off the first ever UK City of Culture year with distinction.
"The University of Ulster is proud to have played its part in fashioning the winning bid and looks forward to working with the city council, Ilex and other partners across the city on delivering a programme of events that will enhance Derry-Londonderry's international standing.