In Liverpool’s footsteps

Well here’s a turn-up for the books: the rest of the country looking to Liverpool as a model!

This article in today’s Guardian reports that today Andy Burnham, Culture Secretary, will announce a plan for there to be a regular British Capital of Culture – with the format drawing on the success of Liverpool in 2008. Actually, by now, it’s not that surprising – not only was 08 a quantitative success (3.5 million first-time visitors last year, generating £176m from tourism alone, plus huge regeneration benefits), but, perhaps more importantly, a qualitative triumph – transforming Liverpool’s image in the UK and around the world.  And living here, the change in how we feel about our city has been palpable.

Andy Burnham told the Guardian:

In Liverpool, something important and significant has happened that has implications for cultural policy in Britain, but more broadly for regeneration, education, skills and the new economy. But more valuable has been its success in regenerating belief, hope and human spirit. It has changed outside perceptions of Liverpool and Liverpool’s perceptions of itself.

In the speech he gave at Liverpool University, Andy Burnham identified five lessons from Liverpool’s year as capital of culture:

Lesson number 1 – A vibrant cultural base has economic benefits – particularly for the visitor economy. Regeneration led by culture and cultural projects can be the most successful and durable – unlocking investment and stimulating a new creative economy. This is why it is important to sustain investment in culture and the arts.

Lesson Number 2 – Placing culture centre stage also has wider indirect benefits – more elusive, but adding quality and value that cannot easily be replicated by other investment. And, crucially, turning perceptions on their head.

Lesson Number 3 – The ability of culture to contribute to the delivery of world-class public services – most particularly education and health – is under-developed in Britain.

Lesson Number 4 – Centres of power in culture and creativity can shift just as quickly as in finance. And creative skills will be more important – not less – in the economy of the future. It is vital to understand the links between a vibrant cultural base, culture and creativity in schools, and the digital economy.

Lesson Number 5 – Investment in a strong cultural base should be maintained – more so, not less, in tough economic times. But more can and should be done to unlock the full value around Britain of the investment the country already makes in it cultural organisations.

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