Medway has failed in its attempt to be named as the UK City of Culture in 2025.
The government has announced the area has not made it through to the next stage of the process.
It's a blow for organisers of the Towns' bid who hoped the coveted title would bring about massive investment with thousands of visitors from across the country.
The council revealed its intention to bid in April 2019 and received backing from the local cultural and business community.
As Medway bows out, eight from an initial 20 bidders have been 'longlisted' and will receive £40,000 to develop their full applications.
They are: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Bradford, Cornwall, County Durham, Derby, Southampton, Stirling and Wrexham County Borough.
The winner will be announced next year and will be at the centre of the UK’s cultural spotlight in 2025.
Council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett said: “Although we are disappointed Medway did not make the longlist, I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved.
“The bid process has highlighted how much Medway has to be proud of, including our extraordinarily talented creatives.
"The work the bid team has done over the past 18 months has helped to establish new partnerships within the creative industry and with residents and brought the wider community even closer together.
"The competition has shone a spotlight on Medway, all that we have to offer and what we are capable of when we come together.
“Our cultural journey does not end here. Indeed – this is just the start.
"We have an impressive cultural strategy in place and we will continue to build on the momentum, energy and great work of the bid team and I have no doubt that Medway will be internationally recognised for its creativity and culture by 2030. We will continue to celebrate our diversity, resilience and creativity and the effect it has on our everyday lives. Watch this space.
“We wish the longlisted areas the best of luck in the competition and look forward to seeing their year in 2025.”
Labour leader Cllr Vince Maple said: “This news is desperately disappointing. I want to thank everyone who has been involved in making the bid so positive and vibrant.
"I’m concerned we have lost out due to the Conservative government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda and we may see further opportunities of this nature unfairly denied to the people of Medway.”
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Winning the UK City of Culture competition has a hugely positive impact on an area, driving investment, creating jobs, and highlighting that culture is for everyone, regardless of their background.
“This year’s focus is on levelling up access to culture across the country and making sure there is a legacy that continues for generations to come. I look forward to seeing what this brilliant longlist has in store as they continue in the competition.”
Imogen Robertson, bid director, Medway City of Culture 2025 said:“Bidding to be City of Culture has been a hugely positive experience for Medway and one which has brought about lasting change for Medway’s people and the future of the area.
"Though we would have loved to take our bid through to the next stage of the competition, we have so much to be proud of. Medway has come together to consider the role creativity, heritage, tech and culture will play in the lives of young people here, our communities and our future.
"We have engaged a huge cross-section of Medway people in imagining change and there is genuine momentum and excitement about the new ways of working that have come about as part of this process and which will be taken forward by Creative Medway over the coming years.
"We look forward to following in the footsteps of other places which bid for the title of UK City of Culture to bring ambitious plans to life in the wake of bidding. Medway wishes all the longlisted places the very best of luck in the next stage of their journeys and looks forward to celebrating the UK’s next City of Culture in due course.”