Liverpool win ‘City of Culture 2008’ bid

The winner of the bid to host the European City of Culture in 2008 was announced today – and its Liverpool. Overall, this seems a good choice – Liverpool can point to historical examples of its cultural significance in the Beatles and the legacy of Victorian industialists in the Walker Art Gallery, and it has signs of a resurgent investment in culture in the Tate Liverpool and the newly opened FACT centre. Its not as far down the regneration route as Newcastle/Gateshead, who seemed not to need it, and had a far more focused proposition than Birmingham, who produced a diverse and strongly multicultural bid on behalf of a large swathe of the West Midlands.

Liverpool has strong similarities to Glasgow, still the model for cultural regeneration in the UK. They both share a dockside industrial heritage, followed by lengthy decline and associated economic and social problems, and both had the roots of a nascent cultural regenration on the ground prior to the bid. Liverpool is probably the safest option, as a boost like this will help to coalesce the nascent regeneration, and provide weight for a different scale of ambition that should hopefully create firm roots for the industries that emerge or relocate to the region as a result of the publicity.

There’s still a lot of controversy about whether cultural regeneration is really a viable option for long-term economic regneration, or whether it is a current ‘fad’, as the Garden Festivals were in the 1980s (scroll down the page for info). One things for sure – there *is* an industry sector that has benefited massively from cultural investment in urban areas. Unfortunately, its the consultants, think tanks and quangoes who charge large fees to tell local and regional councils the things that their own cultural service departments have been shouting about for years…

One comment

  1. g hodge

    If the liverpool capital of culture used their powers to stop quangoes and did not hire consultants they could stop the carpet baggers and fly by nights walking away with all the financial benefits. Sad but we all know that these self same people take part in this type of thing to have their palms greased.

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