Liveability and Liver-bility in the lovely, lively, likeable, leading Liverpool!

In the past few weeks I have been party to what seems like several events championing the drive towards a fresh vision and direction for Liverpool to take in its cultural journey.

This all began a few weeks ago with a meeting to discuss the proposal for Liverpool to partake in the challenge to become European Green City, a debate that raised more questions about Liverpool’s ability to work collectively politically and the need for a ‘champion’ to drive and deliver for the city any award.

Then there followed, with Phil Redmond leading the way at LJMU Institute of Cultural Capital, an extremely interesting data crunching analysis and symposium overview of a ‘Rebalancing of Our Cultural Capital’ with some powerful speakers invited to debate the national distribution of arts funding, and its impact on cities such as Liverpool.

Then, as part of the IFB, at the prestigious Cunard building came Jon Copestake author of the ‘Top World Cities’ list, from the Economist Intelligence Unit with the aptly named programme title of ‘Top Cities Have The Best Quality Of Life’ which had the audience questioning why isn’t Liverpool on the list? Quite so, but Manchester is on the list of top cities and the author suggested we twin, as we are alike in many respects.(He was from Birmingham and had no chance of a listing…his quote, not mine)

Throughout these events, outsiders; guest speakers, visitors to the city, tourists, EU migrants et al, have all expressed support and amazement that we haven’t continued the momentum after Capital of Culture 2008 to drive and get the well deserved status or further grand city awards and push for national financial support, given the cultural excellence that we have in our city.

This is a city you arrive in and do not want to leave. Once you have discovered the nooks and crannies of our beloved, then you will blend and melt into the cultural fabric, yearning for more and more.
As Cultural Champion, and my colleagues will support me on this one, as we are inundated time and time again with superb comments from both locals and tourists on the beauty and innovative cultural events programmed throughout the city. Events covering both film, theatre entertainment, architectural tours, beautiful parks and gardens, museums, beaches and woods. A comment from an academic recently at the ‘’ meeting voiced a message to the panel that Liverpudlian’s did not have a vision and are lost in their direction. I must disagree with that one.
We are all cultural champions!!!!!Every local is a cultural champion that supports events from the heart, events from ‘Giants’ to ‘Tall Ships’ to grand Waterfront events like last week. Numbers support this one.

If Liverpool had a dynamic leader, a charismatic figurehead to drive and lead political partnership to attain both financial and community support along with the vision to even out the N-S divide that I am told we have in Liverpool, again and again, with nothing done about it, then, we may achieve the goals of European Green City or ‘Most liveable city’. Regeneration of the poor socio-economic areas can be achieved overnight especially if it is enlightened with ‘Peel’ appeal vision and ingenuity as an example. The waterfronts of the Mersey have changed completely thanks to EU funding and there is nothing to stop the whole regeneration engulfing the north with some imaginative initiatives to embrace the community.

In 2008 Liverpool had the City of Culture title but was plagued by a city image in the press, of a leading motorway entering the city along a corridor of degrading Victorian terraced housing. Housing blighting the thoroughfare into the city centre and attractions. These buildings in Kensington were tarted-up with murals to enhance their looks but this still couldn’t hide their ugliness. Liverpool was hammered with this one in the press time and time again. Last night at the Liverpool Art Prize 2014, Tabitha Jussa used such photographs of unsightly social housing and how people were being displaced both willing and unwilling under the banner of ‘Regeneration,’…… an art form. How attitudes and art forms change.

I have enjoyed engaging with the ideas and plans at the recent meetings discussing Liverpool’s future vision; the thinking and probing aroused sound debate, the open discussions informative, and I have reeled at the deep resentment and frustration from some of our cultural leaders whose hands are budget tied. Today’s cultural awards are now built on statistics, targets and data showing the well-being of our citizens….their health measured, environments, education, housing. No longer can we drive through the city with award directors and view it with comfort ticking all the boxes that show culture. We need to back it all up with hard evidence that is showing the events put on are making a difference to the people. Awards are measurements, they are gifts that give the feel-good factor, they can make a city proud and they can bring in investment when entrepreneurs use them as a tool to judge the potential of a place to develop business on the basis of their star achievements. I do see some light at the end of the tunnel, light that came from a brief chat with Gerry Proctor MBE- Chair of Engage Liverpool who said……
“I’ve spoken to Mayor Anderson and he said, we have a person on it”
see Worldwide Liveability Survey, Economist Intelligence Unit
Photo: backdrop-2014 Liverpool Art Prize exhibit.

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