Liverpool, Capital Of Culture 2008? Or Of Chaos 2006?

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Going round in circles 90x113  020aa.jpg Liverpool as a city is claiming much for the forthcoming celebratory years of 2007 and 2008, but concerns exist on many fronts about the present. There is more to serious development of cultural involvement than simply 'community programmes', admirable though that is. So what sorts of models of citizen and 'stakeholder' integration are being developed, building on the experience of other cities which have managed to engage people at all levels? And will these work?

Oh dear. We don't seem to have got off to a very good start in Liverpool this year.

The end of 2005 saw the demise of several large-scale Liverpool projects, such as the trams project, and before that, in 2004, the embarrassment of the so-called 'Fourth Grace' (possibly a vainglorious misnomer? nobody I know thought there were even three 'Graces' until someone made that name up, not long ago). And in the Summer we had the debacle of the Mersey River Festival, only now being reported...

Then, to round off 2005, there was the extraordinary fuss over the shifts at the top of our political and administrative power base.

Capital of Culture 2008 now under scrutiny
And now questions are being asked about our preparations for Liverpool's European Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008. These have been becoming more urgent over the past few weeks - there were concerns expressed when Liam Fogarty decided to raise the issue of an elected mayor once more - but since the New Year the story hasn't really been off the front page.

Well, that there are questions is unsurprising, both for particular reasons and because there is always a period before these huge events, as far as I can see, when Questions Are Asked. What is more worrying, however, is the difficulty some actual citizens and 'stakeholders' have experienced in learning what's happening and / or in getting answers.

Who takes day-to-day responsibilty for 'stakeholders'?
I leave it to others to pursue the specifics of this alarming situation; my own concerns are quite complex, though I do have to say it would be helpful if they were being addressed at the practical day-to-day level... one problem seems to be identifying anyone who can take on issues of normal operational accountability. But there you go.

For me, and I suspect numbers of others, the real issue is, where do we go from here? As a long-time resident of Liverpool with strong roots in the city I know it's really important that we make a big success of 2007 and 2008, the 800th anniversary of our City Charter, and then our European Capital of Culture Year.

What some people haven't the foggiest inkling about, however, even after serious attempts to find out, is how they can bring their ideas to bear to help this to happen. And that perhaps has occured also in other European Capital of Culture locations, which begs a question about what models of social and artistic inclusion work best, and where.

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Hilary, lots of people have raised concerns about the direction (or not) that plans for 2008 are going, but I remember you making the point at the start of the bidding process for CoC that there was, even at that early stage, an inkling of 'operational ownership' within those running the campaign, and that this could become counterproductive or even dangerous if sustained. You have, sadly, proven to be perceptive as this is precicely what has happened.

The core idea that the Culture Company are to be the font, inspiration and commander of what happens in 08 has taken hold....and not only of those within the company!

Your caution at the time about this becoming a drain on organisations' income has also been borne out. By setting up a structure aimed at achieving their management of all events, this has led to a drain of resources that should be going to activities rather than admininstration and management, as it is at present.

If the year is to be a successful celebration of a cultural city, surely the role of the Culture Company must be (and be seen to be) more strategic, one of facilitation, rather then the present intention of 'command and control'?

The other major danger of maintaining the current mindset, where the company ARE supposed to do everything, will be the temptation for them to keep the year 'managable'... thereby limiting its impact.

What truly riles me most however is the expectation by many in the artistic and creative community that the company should indeed be doing everything...usually followed by the complaint that they aren't funding THEIR project. This is rot.

It is essential that people arrange their own activities, and use the Culture Company (and all other resources) simply as a publicity tool.

The Culture Company must be seen as only one of the many organisatons arranging events and activities (obviously the bigger, international highlights) during the year. Placing demands on, and making requests of, the Culture Company is simply increasing the likelyhood that the year will be a damp squib.

Maybe the hand out culture has infested so many areas of city-life for so long that people cannot see that by queueing up at their door then they are actually exacerbating the problem.

We must divest ourselves of the notion that the Culture Compay are the only players in this particular game. It is this core notion that has seen too many resources to date being funnelled in their direction and away from other organisations.

We must really remember that 2008 really does BELONG TO US... If you have a plan or idea for the year then JUST DO IT. We all know that it will be impossible for the company to fund every potential idea, so go somewhere else? Leave the Culture Company to get on with getting in the big international events and putting up the banners and posters.

If WE truly are a creative and innovative metropolis then it is down to US to prove it.

The author of the Artfinder blog makes good points about the Culture Company too: http://www.art2008.co.uk/blog/?p=37:

The Artfinder Blog
I know what I like
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« Liverpool, Capital of Culture - where’s the buzz?How can we support things that fall through the funding gap?
I was having a pootle around the Capital of Culture website today, to see if I could get some sort of an idea as to what is going on at the moment, and what the plans are for the future. While I was there, something struck me (metaphorically speaking).

They are planning big things for 2008 itself, big shiny events, great things - I’m not saying that I’m going to be camping outside the Phil to make sure I get tickets for the Berlin Philharmonic when they are in town, but I’m certainly going to do my very best to hear them.

And they are funding some great community arts projects; getting people involved in the arts in a very real way, things which bring people together and contribute to local neighbourhoods and environments. All good stuff, all stuff which wouldn’t be happening otherwise.

But there is some stuff that doesn’t fit in either camp. There are things that aren’t world class orchestras that will be pretty sure to pack out The Phil, and aren’t community arts projects.

Things like local theatre groups wanting to put on a play but needing to pay for costumes, a groups of singers wanting to put on a concert but needing to pay an accompaniest or orchestra, a group of painters wanting to hold an exhibition but needing to pay for the hire of the hall, and exhibition stands. These are the sort of things that might have popular appeal, but not quite enough to justify the financial risk in setting them up.

These are the sort of things that people might want to support if they knew about them, but because the funding isn’t available they never get beyond the “wouldn’t it be nice if” stage.

So here’s an idea, why don’t we bring back the notion of being a patron of the arts? And I don’t mean just the independently wealthy, or large corporate sponsorship deals, I mean me and you, and the bloke down the pub. It’s our Capital of Culture (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) and maybe we should be taking it by the shoulders and shaking it up a bit.

Here’s how I would do it…

1) An organisation is set up. We’ll call it ‘The Artfunder’ for now (it has a nice ring, doesn’t it?).
2) Groups and organisations with ideas and plans can write in and tell The Artfunder what they would like to do, and how much they would need to do it.
3) The Artfunder would go through these applications, and those that it considers to have enough artistic merit would go through to the next stage, the funding stage.

This is where it gets clever.

4) Each project would be funded by direct donations by member of the public, and by businesses. People would log on to a site, see what ideas are there, and if they like the sound of something they might like to contribute something to the pot. It might be £5,000 or £5, it doesn’t really matter how much. As that nice mr O’tesc says “every little helps”.

You might also want to register your support by adding something to the project page, maybe giving reasons why other people should put in their £5.

If an organisation has budgeted for something that you can provide (printing, staffing etc), either as a business or an individual then maybe you could contribute in kind, rather than in cash.

The point is that you would get to directly support an artistic venture that you were interested in - how good would that be?

5) At the concert/play/exhibition/whatever there would be information given out that would explain that the concert/play/exhibition/whatever had been funded by members of the public through The Artfunder. You could even have your name on a programme as one of the supporters.

There could also be information on other projects waiting for funding, and how much more they needed - bringing the audience from one round of funding into the fold, offering them a selection of similar (or maybe completely different) artistic wonders to support.

It wouldn’t need to cost a lot, but if enough of us care enough about the provision of arts in this city to dip into our own wallets on occasions, it could work - it really could.

I probably haven’t explained this very well, I will try and get it sorted into a more coherent thing soon.

[This www.art2008.co.uk entry was posted on Saturday, January 7th, 2006 at 11:58 am and is filed under Artistic Pretentions, In My Liverpool Home.]

All I ever wanted from the Culture Company is something they could do with their eyes shut & with no expense. Publicity with clout, to create some kind of awareness for my project. A simple Tag Line & Web address to promote the project on some of their printed material over a 4 year period would have been great.

There was supposed to be a printed Directory produced which I was told I would be featured in, and would recieve a copy of, to date I have not recieved it, I do not know if one was ever produced.

Though to collect more material I did want to set up multiple High Quality Remote Cameras which would have needed money to set up & maintain I don't have.

http://www.liverpool-skyline.co.uk


MUTOFUNK THEATER AND FILM INTERNATINOL

DEAR SIR,


WE THE ABOVE NAMED GROUP OF ARTISTS WHO HAS BEEN LOOKING FORWARD FOR AN INTERNATION ART EXHIBITION & CULTURAL PERFORMANCE . PLS KINDLY ENROLL US FOR ART PROGRAMME & CULTURAL PERFORMANCE IN YOUR COMPANY. BE IT ART WORKSHOP , ART COMPETITION, AND CULTURAL PROGRAMME ,
WE WILL LIKE TO KNOW MORE INFORMATION ABOUT IT. WE WILL BE HAPPY IF YOU CAN INVITE US TO COME AND PERFORM IN YOUR FESTIVAL IN 2007.IF THIS WILL WORK OUT, PS SEND TO US MORE INFORMATION .
YOUR FAITHFULLY.

THANKS
YOURS FAITHFULLY,
OLAWALE M. OKIKIOLA
M.D
1 MBABIMAYO , LINE 1 RD.
7 . OLUOROGBO ILE-IFE,
OSUN STATE NIGERIA
2348054117231, 8062161655

EUROPEAN FUNDING - A LOTTERY

Okay so you thing Liverpool is short on funding?

Move over to Yorkshire - they have buckets of ERDF money - swimming in it - in addition to getting all you need as an incentive to get even more you may claim for champagne and entertainments - no questions asked.

Find out for yourself - pick a project then look at the Invoices - use the Freedom of Information Act 2000 - you numnuts!

beancounter

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