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Evaluation of the Liverpool City Region Boroughs of Culture programme

Launched in March 2018, the annual Borough of Culture programme (BoC) forms part of a wider Culture and Creativity Strategy for the Liverpool City Region (LCR) Combined Authority. The strategy includes three core aims:

 To expand and promote existing cultural and creative offers as a core part of a growing visitor economy alongside more targeted creative social intervention;
 To develop a ‘supply chain’ for talent development and support, with pathways into cultural and creative sectors;
 To sustain and enhance economic growth through culture and creativity, recognising and investing in culture and creativity as major drivers in the visitor economy and creative industries, and as catalysts to achieve positive outcomes in wellbeing, health, education, cohesion and the future world of work.

This is a complex strategy with its ambitions to meet both market-led outcomes linked to the visitor economy and growth of the LCR’s cultural and creative industries (CCIs), and socially orientated outcomes including health and wellbeing and ‘targeted’ interventions. With a dedicated budget of £200,000 under the ‘1% for Culture’ initiative, the BoC programme is a substantive investment, proportionately speaking, towards fulfilling the strategy outlined above. The title is awarded on a rotational basis to one of the six local councils that constitute the LCR, with the Wirral as current title holders from March 2019. Each BoC is tasked with creating its own themed programme of cultural and creative events, to include the following five key elements:

1. Children and young people: accessing, enjoying, learning through culture and creative engagement, developing skills and talents.
2. Positive outcomes: wellbeing, health, education, cohesion and future world of work;
3. Communities: increasing opportunities for participation and involvement;
4. Distinctiveness of place: promoting the creative and cultural offer to local people and visitors;
5. Infrastructure and legacy.

Researchers at the Institute of Cultural Capital have been working with a dedicated steering group since early 2019 to develop a coherent and consistent evaluation framework for the programme. This work will continue for a four-year period (in the first instance) from autumn 2019, led by ICC Associate Fellow Dr Rafaela Ganga, building upon her work as Lead Researcher on the Impacts 18 participation and engagement study.

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