University of Ulster Chancellor James Nesbitt has backed Londonderry's bid to be crowned UK City of Culture 2013.
Ulster’s thriving Magee campus gives the university a strong connection with the city and its creative community. "Derry is a remarkable city. It is a proud city rich in heritage and culture.
"And when it comes to arts, the city has always punched well above the weight of cities of its size, anywhere in the world," the Chancellor said.
Through his links to the city, the Chancellor is very aware of Derry’s status as an incubator for blossoming artistic talent.
"I was very honoured to be appointed Chancellor of the University of Ulster this year, and I'm proud that colleagues in the University are lending their full support and applying their creativity to the bid.
"The city has an impressive record in nurturing creative talent through education whether it is on the university's Magee campus or through schools like St Columb's College which have nurtured diverse talents such as Seamus Heaney, Paul Brady, Brian Friel and Gerard McSorley or Foyle and Londonderry College whose distinguished alumni include Eva Birthistle and Amanda Burton," he said.
The Chancellor believes that the city’s ability to sustain a dynamic and creative cultural environment even during the most difficult times underlines the resilience of the city's artistic community.
And he feels that winning City of Culture status would allow not just the city, but the whole region to showcase to the world its rich cultural diversity and heritage .
"When you look at the wealth of cultural venues from the Nerve Centre to the Playhouse Theatre, the Verbal Arts Centre, the Waterside Theatre, the Void and Context Galleries, the Millennium Forum and the Foyle Arts Centre at Magee, you can see why the city made the final shortlist of four for the UK City of Culture.
"It's a city that did a remarkable job in keeping the arts vibrant during the grim days of the Troubles and in the years that have followed the city has gone culturally from strength to strength.
"As someone who has worked in the city, I know only too well why Derry would be a wonderful choice for city of culture and I know what it would mean to its citizens.
"But as someone who is a native of neighbouring Coleraine, I also know what a boost it would be to the entire north west of Northern Ireland in general."