European Capital of Culture 2023 — ‘Breaking the Frame’ revealed as Nottingham bid theme

Nottingham will draw on its heritage of rebellion, social justice and innovation in its bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.

The theme of Nottingham 2023’s bid, ‘Breaking the Frame’, was revealed today, setting out how the city will use its Robin Hood spirit to empower people to take culture back into their own hands.

The bid title is inspired by the ‘frame-breakers’ of the Luddite rebellion which originated in Nottingham, then the global centre of the Lace-making industry, in 1811. Though the common misconception of the Luddites is that they were anti-progress and anti-technology, in fact they were an organised labour movement, comprised of skilled craftsmen, supported by Lord Byron and inspired by the social justice of Robin Hood. Wanting fairness, they challenged how technology was being used and for whose advantage.

Nottingham 2023: Breaking the Frame will be the city’s latest experiment in radical cultural democracy. It will challenge how and where culture is made, what it means, who it is made for and who can make it.

Under two flagship programmes, Everyone is an Artist and Art Can Change the World, citizens of Nottingham and Europe will be invited to discover their own creativity and use it to address the challenges of the 21st century together. A series of Everyone is an Artist Cultural Hubs in housing estates, schools, and community centres will invite people to work with European artists, while Art Can Change the World will be linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals through a partnership with the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab.

Artistic highlights of the programme will include:

  • The Lace Pavilion, a major public art project and a new cultural tourism attraction in Nottingham
  • A series of Ice Dances celebrating figure skating and the ‘ice spectacular’, bringing inventive European dance choreographers to create new dances, with an Ice Mirror enabling amateur skaters to connect with others across Europe
  • The European Luminaria Project – luminaria were originally conceived as well-being projects for socially excluded young people. Nottingham’s internationally renowned Architects of Air, whose workshop base is in St Ann’s, will develop a series of residency projects between local communities and partner communities in Europe to design and construct their own luminescent structures of colour and light
  • Poetry, Protest and Participation, curated by Nottingham’s Young Poet Laureate and UNESCO City of Literature, which will pair poets from diverse backgrounds across Nottingham with those from different European nations to explore all sides of the city’s culture
  • Diverse Digital DIY – Inspired by Ada Lovelace and in partnership with Game City and European Women in Games, this will bring together independent game makers, hackers and creative technologists to use technology as a creative force for storytelling and social change.

The University of Nottingham is proud to be backing the bid for Nottingham to become European Capital of Culture along with a number of leading artists, actors, authors, musicians and theatre makers, organisations, representatives of Nottingham’s thriving music scene, sports clubs, businesses and residents.

Since Nottingham’s competition entry was announced in August, almost 5,500 people have pledged their support through the website and events.

The decision on which bidders have made it through to the next stage is expected to be announced in the new year.

Find out more by visiting or searching for #Nottingham2023 on social media.

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