Published: 11:00, 24 April 2013
Hollywood heartthrob Orlando Bloom has today added a touch of star appeal to east Kent's campaign to become UK City of Culture in 2017.
The Pirates of the Caribbean actor - born and raised in Canterbury - has thrown his weight behind the bid along with Kent-based stars Paul O'Grady and Jools Holland.
The 36-year-old, also known for his roles in The Lord of the Rings, first caught the acting bug at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury.
Bloom, pictured right, said today: "East Kent's bid to become UK City of Culture 2017 is the next stage in its creative journey – and it's one I'm delighted to support.
"Born and raised in Canterbury, it was here that I first discovered my love for acting. One of my earliest memories is of being spellbound by performers I would pass on the High Street – before long I was having a go myself as a four-year-old hopeful on the Marlowe Theatre stage. Like myself, many have found their inspiration here.
"East Kent has always had a strong reputation for cultural excellence – be it in the field of theatre or literature, the visual arts or dance – and developments over the last few years have only served to cement that relationship. Growing up in East Kent awakened my passion – I hope this bid can do the same for generations to come."
The area of East Kent is competing against 10 others across the UK for the title in a competition organised by the government.
But Kent's bid stretches beyond a city - to include Canterbury, Ashford, Dover, Folkestone and Thanet.
Comedian Paul O'Grady, who lives near Ashford, is backing the bid
It will compete against Aberdeen, Chester, Dundee, Hastings and Bexhill-on- Sea, Hull, Leicester, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, and Swansea Bay for the prestigious prize.
The bid is building momentum, with a growing army of supporters from across the region including Canterbury's Marlowe Theatre and Margate's Turner Contemporary, ahead of the first phase of the application next week.
Presenter and comedian Paul O'Grady, who lives in Aldington near Ashford, said the bid will "draw attention to the amazing things that we have on offer here, including world-class galleries, fantastic theatres and some of the country's best-loved and most recognisable sites".
Support was also given by pianist Jools Holland, who lives in Cooling and is Deputy Lieutenant for Kent and patron of Kent Music.
Pianist Jools Holland is patron of Kent Music
And BAFTA award-winning director Dominic Savage – creator of Margate-set TV series True Love – was joined by author and former Children's Laureate Anthony Browne in backing to the bid.
Mr Savage said: "I have always had a particularly emotional connection with east Kent. Born and bred in Margate, the surrounding area continues to surprise, inspire and move me – and will always have an important place in my heart, and in my work."
And Mr Browne said: "East Kent is, in many ways, the land of the storyteller – a spiritual home for pilgrims, poets, playwrights and authors. Poised at our island's edge and central to our connection with the outside world, it has long been a source of inspiration to artists and dreamers."
Their support comes after the backing of acclaimed designer Wayne Hemingway and award-winning architect Sir David Chipperfield.
Entrants have until Tuesday to submit their initial bids, which will be considered by an independent advisory panel before a shortlist is announced in June.
If successful, a range of cultural events would be held across east Kent in 2017 - falling under the banners of "movement", "innovation" and "collaboration".
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