Recently in Liverpool 2007 & 2008 Category

09.01.10 Liverpool European Capital of Culture ends Pierhead clock illuminated So it's all over, for now. Liverpool has handed on the European Capital of Culture title to Linz and Vilnius, after a rollercoaster year on Merseyside. There have been highlights and muddle, fun, exasperation and exhaustion. The debates and analysis will start soon enough - and we need them, to learn what worked and what didn't - but tonight the thing everyone, people in their thousands and from many communities, came into town for, was a party....

09.01.10 Liverpool European Capital of Culture ends Lanterns on the new Pierhead canal

09.01.10 Liverpool European Capital of Culture ends The Liverpool Orrery at Pierhead

09.01.10 Liverpool European Capital of Culture ends Pierhead buildings illuminated with projections of La Princesse ('The Spider')

09.01.10 Liverpool European Capital of Culture ends Fireworks over the Mersey (The Albert Dock) seen from  Liverpool 1 retail park

Read more about Liverpool, European Capital of Culture and see more photographs of Liverpool & Merseyside.

Liverpool Tunnel airvent outlet & Liverbirds There can be few issues, at the local level, more pressing than what's to happen to one's city. As Liverpool's European Capital of Culture Year ends, perhaps the new LinkedIn Group on 'The Future of Liverpool' will help to sharpen our ideas.

The Future Of Liverpool

For Liverpool, 2008 has been a year of enormous change, as buildings have come down and gone up, roads have disappeared and re-emerged, and of course the European Capital of Culture has taken, massively, the centre stage.

But now the emphasis must move from these transitions to our longer-term future; new critiques and ideas will emerge and point us in as yet unrevealed directions. And everyone who can will need to be involved; not just those who sit in committee rooms.

To help the debate along a new LinkedIn Group open to all has been formed. To join, simply go to LinkedIn and then search Groups for 'The Future of Liverpool'. Your contributions will be very welcome.


Read more articles about The Future Of Liverpool and see photographs of Liverpool & Merseyside.

08.12.18 Liverpool St George's Hall & Capital of Culture Xmas 2008 Liverpool's great St George's Hall offered a splendid setting for the event at which Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State for Media and Culture, offered thanks and encouragement to the people who had made such an effort to deliver the 2008 European Capital of Culture programme. Volunteers and officers alike congregated to hear the Culture Secretary say well done, and to muse on the challenges of 2009. This he opined, as do many of us, is only the beginning...

08.12.18 Liverpool St George's Hall & Capital of Culture Andy Burnham  at the Thank You Reception 08.12.18 Liverpool St George's Hall & Capital of Culture Thank You Reception

08.12.18 Liverpool St George's Hall & Capital of Culture Thank You Reception

So, after the celebrations, the thank yous and, no doubt, the elaborate analyses of all that's comprised Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008, what, we wonder, will happen next...?

08.12.18 Liverpool St George's Hall & Capital of Culture Christmas lights for 2008 (09)

Read more about Liverpool European Capital Of Culture 2008 and The Future Of Liverpool

Santa & 'sleigh' 151x92 2693a.jpg Amongst the more interesting modes of transport in Liverpool city centre last Christmas (2006) was this traditional vehicle, with its delighted passengers and good humoured driver. People waiting at the bus stop must have felt that somehow they were missing something rather special.

Santa & his horse-drawn carriage 'sleigh' in Liverpool 495x512  06.12 2690aaaa.jpg




For more photographs please see also Camera & Calendar

For information on things to do in Liverpool click here.

Liverpool Radio City & 08 Tower 616  93x96.jpg Abrupt curtailment of the 2007 Mathew Street Festival, silly ideas about removing fish so the docks become a concert arena, questions about preparations for the Big Year.... Liverpool 2008 is a drama unto itself. The leading arts venues have devised a pretty good cultural programme for European Capital of Culture Year, but concerns about what else needs to be done remain.

There’s a jolly good row going on in Liverpool just now.

The minority Labour Group on the City Council wants an independent review of the 2007 Mathew Street Festival – not to mention an explanation for the recent Sir Paul and the Fish fiasco - whilst the ruling LibDem Group so far appears content to receive a previewed Mathew Street report from their own officers.

Costs and concerns
This furious debate concerns the abrupt cancellation of the international Mathew Street Festival as an outdoor event, and questions about hundreds of thousands of pounds apparently expended on a now-abandoned plan to stun (and remove to claimed safety) the piscine inhabitants of one of Liverpool’s splendid docks, before draining it to create an arena for Paul McCartney’s much trumpeted appearance in the city during the 2008 European Capital of Culture year.

Given such corporate Who Dunnit dramatics, one might well ask whether professional entertainers are required at all.

Liverpool life as theatre
But of course there’s more than this to add into the ever-changing theatre which constitutes the City of Liverpool. In less than one hundred days (as I write) the momentous 2008 will be upon us.

And, to be fair, some excellent cultural events have now been announced for the year. We are to have Klimt at the Tate, Simon Rattle with the Berliner Philharmoniker (and later with the RLPO, as a member of which he began his career), adventurous programming from the Everyman and Playhouse, the Turner Prize, the Anne Frank Exhibition and much else.

It’s a huge relief that these events have been secured; many were afraid we were about to have a ‘cultureless’ European Year of Culture, with all the embarrassment that would bring.

Culture and leadership
But, perhaps as at this stage in other cities who have been through the Year of Culture experience, there remains continuing concern about how it all fits, and who’s in charge.

There seems little convincing evidence those being paid the most (who some say are departing in droves) have brought the most to the cultural agenda. That was very largely done by the individual arts organisations.

And this brings us to the big question: What’s it for? And which of our white, male hegemony of leaders is going (or able) to tell us?

Bringing in the real world
One place where we can begin to find answers is the Grosvenor (Liverpool One) development. This 17 ha mixed use site in the heart of the city centre has an investment value of £920m and will be completed in 2008. It is almost entirely privately funded and has a huge emphasis on retail and leisure.

Leading this venture is the sharply focused Rodney Holmes, a man who knows a challenge when he sees one. Unflappable and consistently approachable, Holmes is nonetheless ready when events so demand to articulate his requirements.

Recently, these demands included specific actions for the preparation of Liverpool for its year of glory (and, as it happens, the opening of the Grosvenor venture) – demands also supported by Jim Gill, the respected CEO of city-centre regeneration company Liverpool Vision, who now chairs the Countdown Group to deliver what is required.

Past or future?
Slowly, then, the cultural and commercial components of Liverpool’s future are falling into place. But it would be hard to give full credit to city leaders in all this. Rather, it feels that individual elements of the visible fabric of the city have taken things into their own hands and, in the end, just got on with it.

And this is perhaps the problem. Whilst those with vision look to the future, the official powers-that-be continue to hark on about the Beatles and Scouse (a traditional hotpot meal or a dialect, depending on context). Scouse and the Beatles are both in their different ways attractive elements of our heritage for visitors and residents alike, but can they take us forward?

Leadership and local understandings
Whilst the heritage elements of Liverpool life still resonate with many Liverpudlians, fewer feel any warmth towards the great cultural events and enterprise opportunities which 2008 presents.

There is a failure of leadership, an unwillingness to articulate ambition and opportunity, which it seems cannot be shaken off. Frequent cries by the local citizenry that ‘all this is fine, but it’s not for me’, meet only with reassurance that there will ‘also’ be things for ‘the community’ (as there surely will).

Missing is head-on challenge to the notion that excellent formal culture and serious enterprise are somehow not for ‘ordinary people’.

Involving the people
Grosvenor’s Liverpool One has a significant community engagement programme. All the flagship cultural organisations have their versions of the same. How do these fit into the greater scheme of things? Where are the cultural and entrepreneurial horizons and ambition? The missing link is our civic leaders.

There’s no longer any civic mileage in The Beatles’ When I’m Sixty Four. Paul McCartney is now older than that. And Scouse is a matter of minor gastronomic / historical interest but hardly the whole story in a city which aims through Liverpool One shortly to offer the full five stars for its more affluent cultural and business visitors.

Exclusion zones?
Whilst some in Liverpool 8 (Toxteth) still believe, or feel comfortable declaring, that the city centre is a ‘no-go’ area for people of colour, whilst those in the outer zones continue to claim total invisibility, whilst the roles of education and enterprise are seen as so irrelevant by so many, Liverpool’s resurgence remains painfully fragile.

Tempting as for some it may be to lay blame here or there for this state of affairs, blame takes us nowhere. It’s action which will do the trick.

Courage to change
We need leaders who seek out and actively nurture Liverpool’s diversity in talent and persona;
leaders who proudly proclaim they personally attend and enjoy the best of our cultural offerings formal and informal, and they want everyone else to as well;
leaders who have the courage to explain that heritage is precious but also that sometimes things need to change;
leaders who see the fit between culture and knowledge, who value Biotech and Beethoven as much as the Beatles;
and leaders, most importantly of all, who understand the fundamental difference between ‘disloyalty’ to a city and serious citizen engagement in the on-going debate.

Change of this sort cannot be achieved by default or vague sentimental aspiration. It requires deep focus, a core shift in the culture of our city. And it requires absolutely no more silliness involving, say, festival financial fiascos or stunned fish and Macca.

The cabbie is correct
One takes the views of cab drivers with a pinch of salt. But my driver yesterday was spot on. Liverpool’s buzzing at the moment, he opined. But what will it be like in 2009?

'Gold' coins 4919 (99x134).jpg Here in Liverpool we are about to start our 2008 Year as European Capital of Culture. But apparently the connection between this year-long Capital of Culture event and hard European cash has yet to dawn on some local businesses. This is serious. Who's failed to get the message over? And will things improve?

A walk this morning took us through Liverpool's Sefton Park to Lark Lane, where the Boho action is, to find some brunch.

The brunch was fine; but the bill which followed it left us at best bewildered.

Sterling only
The card machine - as usual these days, the 'continental' 'take it to the table' type - came up with a sensible sum, requested in either Sterling or Euros. As it happened, we had some Euros on us, so when we'd paid (in Sterling) we asked lightheartedly if we could have paid cash Euros. (The literal conversion rate was 1.645 if anyone wants to know....)

The waitress was aghast. Oh no, she assured us, clearly thinking we'd sought such reassurance, they wouldn't even think of taking Euros. The cafe never dealt with Euros, the cost would be sky-high, it was quite out of the question...

Bafflement and business
We were unsure how to respond, having originally intended to congratulate the establishment on its forward-planing and preparations for Euro-billing.

Did our waitress know, we asked, what 2008 had in store for Liverpool? She confirmed that she knew 2008 is the Capital of Culture year.

But it's Liverpool's 'European' Capital of Culture Year, we protested......

The management decides
'I don't know about that', came the reply. 'Anyway, none of Liverpool's restaurants are doing Euros. You'll have to take that up with the management.'

On the contrary, we suggested, perhaps the management needs to take the Euro opportunity up with itself....

The 'Liverpool experience' missing link - Europe
So there we have it. At least some of our local businesses, just three months before 2008 begins, still fail utterly to understand that next year is an international, a European, event.

These local 'enterprises' haven't even begun to consider whether a billing system with the potential to offer payment in Euros as well as Sterling might in fact be a business advantage or selling point.... especially in the Boho part of town.

No leadership with the big picture
Could this failure to get the overarching picture be because the city's leadership has permitted developments (perhaps even decided?) not to move out of the Liverpool comfort zone?

Are city leaders neglecting to emphasise that next year's celebrations are not 'only' an excuse for some (what look to be very promising) major arts events, and for neighbourhood street parties and general local merriment, important though all these are?

2008 opportunities squandered?
If the whole rationale for Liverpool's European Capital of Culture 2008 Year is put aside, if the business opportunities are not seized, all that enormous amount of (our) money already spent will have been squandered.

I really hope someone will be getting things into gear pretty pronto.

Jim Gill  2007  Liverpool  Vision 115x114.jpg The public realm refurbishment of Hope Street, the thoroughfare which defines Liverpool’s cultural quarter, was finally completed in May 2007. This has offered an opportunity to reflect on, and learn some lessons from, the decade of activity culminating in Hope Street’s new look. Jim Gill, Chief Executive of Liverpool Vision, agreed to share his perceptions of that decade and what it has achieved for Hope Street and the City of Liverpool.

What follows is a summary of a conversation between Jim Gill, Chief Executive of Liverpool Vision, and Hilary Burrage, Hon. Chair of HOPES: The Hope Street Association, the body which since the early 1990s has consistently lobbied for the recognition and refurbishment of Liverpool’s Hope Street. In this discussion Hilary posed questions to which Jim responded.


Hope Street’s value to Liverpool and beyond
Hilary: Jim, thank you for agreeing to discuss Hope Street with me, as the street’s refurbishment is finally completed and the last few public seating areas are installed and lit. You’ve been involved in this process almost from the beginning, initially through English Partnerships, and then as Chief Executive of Liverpool Vision, the UK’s first Urban Regeneration Company. How would you describe the value of Hope Street, as a core part of Liverpool’s city centre?

Jim: Hope Street has huge intrinsic value. The problem is recognising it and exploiting it in an appropriate way; and in that we still have a way to go. But there’s no doubt that the perceived value of the street has increased significantly, both because of the public realm refurbishment and as a result of the individual development schemes, for instance by both Cathedrals, the Hope Street Hotel, the restaurant scene and of course the refurbishment of the Philharmonic Hall.


Securing the refurbishment of Hope Street
Hilary: Can you tell me what finally clinched the decision to refurbish Hope Street?

Jim: Essentially, it was HOPES pestering us, your solid determination to see something happen. Initially the refurbishment of Hope Street was just a long-term ‘red zone’ aim for Liverpool Vision; but we converted that to an immediate action ‘green zone’ because of your persistence.

It was the meeting which you (Hilary) and Adrian (Adrian Simmons, HOPES’ Hon. Secretary) had with myself (Jim) which clinched it. You told me how dis-spirited you were about lack of progress, and I agreed that we would develop proposals with you. And of course HOPES had also secured the full support of Steve Broomhead, Chief Executive of the North West Development Agency, so at that point things started to move.


A different way forward
Hilary: Was it a different way to do things?

Jim: Yes, it was a very different way! There have been two or three tranches of significant public realm works in Liverpool, such as Williamson Square and East Moorfields. Those projects involved ‘set piece’ consultation with the public through exhibitions. But the Hope Street process involved real community engagement from the beginning.

Engagement is always more difficult to achieve in an area with many individual, non-collective voices, but HOPES constituted a ready-made ‘panel’ which enabled deeper involvement of local stakeholders as well as the normal consultation.


The knowledge economy
Hilary: How significant is the knowledge economy (scientific, academic and cultural) around Hope Street Quarter? Has the refurbishment of the street had an impact on this economy?

Jim: We haven’t yet properly grasped how (if) we can capture all the benefits of the area. Clearly there is a link between the fortunes of Hope Street Quarter and the wider area which includes the Universities and much else; but this is not yet consolidated.

In fact, Liverpool Vision is currently engaged with both the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University in producing a prospectus / audit of the local knowledge economy and the contribution which it makes to the City and the Regional economy. The figures are very impressive. We believe that the quality of the Hope Street area has major role to play in supporting the growth of the Knowledge Quarter, and vice versa.

But we don’t yet fully comprehend the value of the knowledge economy. Knowledge can and will drive the City economy towards self-sustainability. Our ‘Transitional’ Programme for the City Centre suggests a refocusing of activity ‘up the hill’ to Hope Street, embracing the crescent of opportunity surrounding the city centre, linking the waterfront, Hope Street and the Knowledge Quarter, extending as far as LJMU’s Byrom Street Campus.

We all need to understand the potential of these links better. This perspective underlines our shifting focus ‘up the hill’; the quality of space around Hope Street can indirectly benefit the knowledge economy, including Hope Street’s high artistic skills. Hope Street, as you have said many times, is a sort-of South Bank and needs to be valued as such.


Lessons learned
Hilary: What lessons can we learn from the ‘story of Hope Street’? What helped or hindered the process and what of the future?

Jim: The first lesson is to understand what can be achieved by working in a real partnership where local stakeholders are fully engaged, as they were in this case through the mechanism of HOPES.

Second, for the future, recognition of the importance of the Knowledge Economy – and consequent actions - will be critical. As I have already mentioned, Liverpool Vision has recognised the importance of the wider Hope Street-Knowledge Quarter area and as we merge into the proposed new economic regeneration vehicle for the City we want to make sure the priority is taken forward, so that the potential of the wider ‘University Edge’ is maximised. This is a key strategic priority at Regional, not just City level.

Third, my mantra is, ‘Don’t kid yourself the job’s done.’ There has been massive change in the City Centre and the pace of change continues at a high level. But much more needs to be done to secure the long term economic health of the City and lasting opportunity for the people of Liverpool. We have to ensure the opportunity that is Hope Street isn’t lost. The wider Hope Street area will be a major contributor to the economic health of the City and the provision of additional jobs.

The associated challenge is to ensure that people needing the jobs here can get to them, and to spread the opportunities around. That, I’d suggest, is what real regeneration is about.

And lastly, I’d say the biggest challenge for HOPES is that you need somehow to keep and widen your circle of friends; not easy when you’re an unsupported voluntary body, but it’s necessary. HOPES has a central role in moving things along, but it will need to be flexible in how it does things and how it relates to developments.


The professional perspective
Hilary: Thank you. As you know, most of HOPES’ members are professional people in their own right, who have given their time and skills ‘for free’ to bring about the changes now seen in Hope Street. This has produced an interesting dynamic, perhaps because regeneration professionals on the ‘official’ side more often work with community groups with fewer professional qualifications than themselves. My other question here is therefore what ‘lessons’ can be learned from this unusual situation about how to get the best from such a dynamic. Are there particular issues for instance in respect of ownership of the ideas and developments?

Jim: Working with the HOPES members on the public realm project was occasionally challenging, probably because the level of engagement was close and because each of the stakeholders had clear views as to what would or wouldn’t ‘work', and because they were able to argue their corner very strongly. We had a shared goal which, I think, was achieved.

I think the wider lessons for all stakeholders is to learn how to work with other groups, for example, non-professional stakeholders, and to recognise that everyone's goals and aspirations have validity. Ultimately more will be achieved if the Hope Street area speaks with a single voice which embraces all interests.


Worst and best so far
Hilary: What have we done worst and best, so far?

Jim: The worst is probably the time it has taken, or is taking, to secure a full recognition across the range of ‘public' organisations - including the City Council - of the importance of the area for the future economic health of the City.

The best is that you mustn’t underestimate what HOPES has achieved as, a voice for the area and in delivering activity. As I said, it was the discussion I had with you and Adrian which effectively clinched the resources to deliver the public realm project. You have secured formal recognition of the area; and the stakeholder group which we’ve developed from your original group of activists has worked quite well. We’ve come a long way.

Read also: The Hope Street Festivals (1996 - 2006)
Liverpool's Hope Street Festivals & Quarter (1977 - 1995)

HOPES Festival logo (small) 110x116.jpg HOPES: The Hope Street Association marks the thirtieth anniversary of the inaugural Hope Street Festival with a HOTFOOT 2007 concert offering many elements of previous such events. Tayo Aluko, Tony Burrage, Richard Gordon-Smith, Sarah Helsby-Hughes, Hughie Jones, Roger Phillips and Surinder Sandhu join children from Merseyside schools and the stalwart HOPES Festival Orchestra and Choir for an event not be missed.



HOTFOOT 2007! A Street of Hope for 30 Years

Celebrating 30 years of the Hope Street Festival


Buy your tickets here.


The first Hope Street Festival took place in 1977, when Her Majesty the Queen visited Liverpool as part of her Silver Jubilee tour. There was another Festival in 1980 and then no more until HOPES: The Hope Street Association was able to resurrect the event in 1996. HOPES, with support from the Liverpool Culture Company and the Community Foundation for Merseyside, has chosen to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the inaugural Hope Street Festival with a HOTFOOT 2007 concert which incorporates many of the elements of previous such events.

Sunday 22 July 2007 @ 7 pm (please note time),
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street, L1 9BP

with

* Roger Phillips (Presenter)

* Richard Gordon-Smith (Conductor)

* The HOPES Festival Orchestra and Choir

(Leader / Director: Martin Anthony (Tony) Burrage)

and guests

CONCERT PROGRAMME:

Surinder Sandhu and the Saurang soloists
returning to HOPES to perform music by Surinder Sandhu (orchestrated by Richard Gordon-Smith) with the HOPES Festival Orchestra

Songs of the Sea with Hughie Jones' Jack Coutts, Kevin Bargen & Friends, featuring some of the performers who made the Mersey Shanty Festival an international success, singing shanties and sea songs from the days of the great sailing ships - the other music that Liverpool gave to the world a century before the Mersey Sound !

HOPES Festival Orchestra
performs Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Petite Suite de Concert

Sarah Helsby-Hughes (soprano) & Tayo Aluko (baritone) join the HOPES Festival Orchestra
for Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ and other songs from Porgy & Bess

Children from Merseyside schools, with the HOPES Orchestra, perform
Liverpool First and Last
which they have themselves devised for HOPES with Richard Gordon-Smith & Tony Burrage, now arranged, orchestrated and conducted by Richard Gordon-Smith

Grand finale
where the entire company performs
HOPES’ Song for Liverpool, ‘Light Up The City' (from Cool Street) by Richard Gordon-Smith.


Exhibition
* We are delighted that the National Trust / Chambre Hardman have also agreed to put on an exhibition in the foyer of the Phil Hall on the day. (HOPES was a major advocate of 'saving' the Chambre Hardman House, at 59 Rodnet Street, Liverpool.)

Tickets for the show
(Sun 22 July, 7 pm [please note start time]
are now available from the Phil Box office: 0151-709 3789
or via the Liverpool Philharmonic website
at £7, £9 & £11 (£5 children).

And, finally……If you would like to be involved in this concert, as a performer, singer or sponsor / raffle donor please contact us a.s.a.p. on hope.street@btconnect.com. Thank you!

HOPES is grateful to The Liverpool Culture Company and The Community Foundation for Merseyside, both of which generously provided grant-aid for this concert.

Lewis'sStoreClosing Notice 2007.4 (small)90x134.jpg Liverpool city centre is in a state of flux, as the Big Dig re-routes and bewilders in equal measure. The aim is that the city centre will become a pleasant, business-friendly place to be. The disgraceful state of Renshaw Street, linking Lime Street Station to the city south end, sadly belies that intent. It's scruffy and delapidated; does it have to be like this?

Renshaw Street Liverpool from Lewis's to Lime Street  160x196.jpg Lewis'sStatue 160x81.jpg Liverpool Lime Street looking down Renshaw Street to Lewis's 160x209  2007.4.jpg

The steel-grey vistas above are what first greet visitors to Liverpool's city centre. The once-mighty Lewis's department store and the street from there to the main train station look much as some of us recall them thirty years ago, except perhaps they are less well scrubbed. And to add to this we now have the challenge of the City Centre Movement Strategy (CCMS) 'in action' every time we come into town.

The Big Dig as a way of life
To those familiar with Liverpool's city centre the Big Dig has become a way of life. Intended to make the heart of Liverpool 'fit for purpose' for the celebratory years of 2007 and 2008, this now seemingly perennial feature of the city centre experience feels to have become a liability for Liverpool's citizens, rather then an opportunity to enhance our future.

Many are asking whether a city which has suffered so much digging of holes and diversion of traffic in all directions can actually survive as an economic entity until the works are finally completed. The word is that some local businesses are going to the wall, especially in the train station area around Liverpool Lime Street, RenshawStreet and the Adelphi Hotel (not, it seems, itself under duress).

Enterprise endangered
Certainly, there have already been casualties. Heart & Soul, Chumki Banerjee's signature bistro restaurant just around the corner on Mount Pleasant, has closed and Lewis's Ltd (quite a different retail company from John Lewis) is rumoured after many years - it was founded in 1856 - to be folding imminently (mid-May 2007). There are also suggestions that some other long-established local stores are at risk.

A relaxed approach to regeneration?
No-one denies that improvements to the city centre are required; but many question the apparently relaxed approach the City Council and others have taken to achieving this.

Work on the Big Dig seems at best to be nine-to-five, and nobody, as far as one can tell, has a responsibility actually to clean up the grimly grey and crumbling retail and commercial buildings along Renshaw Street from Lime Street.

Take a fresh look - and freshen up!
Is it surprising that businesses in this well-established part of town are feeling the pinch? Who would choose to walk from Lime Street up to Lewis's along a street resembling the set of a 1960s kitchen sink melodrama, when they can instead take the crossing outside the station into the pedestrian zone?

Perhaps some city leaders need to walk this walk, as well as talking the theoretical talk about the local infrastructural wonders we can soon expect.

Support the positive
There will always be brave souls who find a way forward. Fleur Hair and Beauty, previously located in the now-collapsing Lewis's department store, has taken a walk across the road to the Adelphi Hotel Health Club, where the business can re-consolidate. No doubt there are others too who have faced the future and re-grouped.

Things are never static, especially in the world of enterprise, and to some extent this is good. That, however, does not excuse the failure of city local leaders to address problems which are beyond the control of all but the very largest businesses.

Challenging market conditions
This is a city with more than the usual proportion of small and medium sized enterprises (compared to large ones - but still low in proportion to the public sector). These SMEs, often owned and run by individuals who actually live in Liverpool, have little slack in their business plans to accommodate civic laxity.

Not all businesses are equally effectively run, but Liverpool can't afford the luxury of just letting private sector interests go to the wall without any support.

Nurture the positives
As I have said before, Regeneration Rule No. 1 has to be:
First nurture the positive assets you already have.

It's not just the interests of visitors to our 2007 and 2008 celebrations that we must protect. The concerns of local workers and entrepreneurs are also core.

They, after all, are the people who hope still to be here in 2009.



FleurVaughan150x224.jpg Fleur Health & Beauty

Spindles Health Club
The Britannia Adelphi Hotel
Ranelagh Place (Renshaw Street)
Liverpool L3 5UL

0151-709 7200 x 044


And a happy PS: Fleur has now re-opened her salon in the 'rescued' Lewis's, to run alongside the Adelphi salon - Lewis's, Ranelagh Street, 0151-709 7000.

Four dots Markings 140x55 030bb.jpg Liverpool 's 2008 European Capital of Culture Year will be upon us in just a few months. But deep divides remain between artists, civic leaders and many local people about what the 2008 Year is 'for'.

Alex Corina has taken the plunge into controversy on developments with the Liverpool's plans for the 2008 European Capital of Culture Year. He's reinvented Edvard Munch's The Scream as The Liverpool Scream, just as in happier times he produced the Mona Lennon.

How do we measure success?
Despite the intentional playing to the gallery in all this, there is a very serious issue to be considered here. It concerns the rationale/s which lie behind the 2008 culture programme.

For many (not all) in the Culture Company I gather that one of most important 'real' ways that success will be measured in 2008 is number of tourist beds (i.e. overnight stays) which are achieved during the year.

The local artists' perspective
I can see why this is a significant measure, but it's not the message which most 'community arts' people in the city want to prioritise. They, like some Culture Company officers, seek to develop their communities by using 'culture' as a socially helpful way to bring people together.

This is however obviously much harder to measure and has less immediate impact on the seriously challenging sub-regional economy (though longer-term it would be good).

A view from cultural institutions
And then of course there are the 'high arts' bigger organisations which no doubt see the major outcome for themselves as being numbers of tickets sold for shows, concerts, whatever.

Again, a very valid perspective, and we need to recognise that if these organisations were not to benefit from 2008 'celebrations' they would be in serious trouble in 2009 - which would mean the loss of many very accomplished artists and performers who currently work in the city(but often choose not to live here because the additional employment opportunities are so much better in, say, Manchester - see below).

Nurturing home-based professional artistic talent?
But the requirement to sustain the big arts organisations, though vital for Liverpool's future status, still ignores the need - not at all as yet recognised as far as I can judge - to support locally-based fully trained and professional artists and performers with very high levels of skill who want to work in the city simply as artists and performers, not as community-based animateurs.

An edgy approach
This may be difficult when, for instance, the new Liverpool Commissions stream requires that applicants offer something wacky and on the edge; which is good for some, but sounds absolutely daft if you are a historically-inclined fine arts person or a classically trained musician.

Playing to the local Liverpool gallery, which prides itself on being on the edge, is understandable, but it won't impress many others from elsewhere; and why aren't local professional artists being respected as artists in their own right - or so it might appear - in the same way as visiting ones?

I have already asked How Will We Know That Liverpool 2007 & 2008 Were Successful? And that debate continues.

At least three views?
In the meantime, I'm still not sure what the answers might be, but they seem to coalesce around the three views above:

1. tourist spend / beds

2. community cohesion and capacity building

3. (potentially) retention of high-level artistic skills in the city

Where's the dialogue?
Unfortunately however there seems to be very little dialogue between those who promote each of these perspectives.

Indeed, I'm not sure it's possible to do this under the present 'consultation' arrangements, with occasional meetings of large numbers of people - professional artists and others with very different experience together - in sports halls and the like.

Bringing the issues into focus
If Alex Corina's current activities can help everyone to focus on the 'what's 2008 for?' message whilst there's still at least a little bit of time left, that will be excellent.

As a city resident I'd like to see everything succeed so that proposed cultural 'villages', respected highly-skilled professional artists and performers, and our tourist trade all flourish ; but we're still a way from achieving this.

A matter of urgency
The dialogue does need to be getting somewhere, and pretty quickly, please.

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The annual HOTFOOT on Hope Street concert, put on by HOPES: The Hope Street Association, is always an exciting…
The National Theatre Museum Has Closed
No-one believed it could happen, but the announcement has been made - the National Museum of the Performing Arts in…
Liverpool 2007 And 2008 - Different Emphases, Similar Opportunities?
BBC Radio 3 hosted a fascinating Free Thinking event in Liverpool's FACT building last weekend, with presentations, discussions and performances…