Cities of Culture, 30 years on. Who has the edge?

This event is on 18 October 2018

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In 2018, Liverpool looks back on the 10 year anniversary of becoming European Capital of Culture (ECoC) as the only host city thus far to have so comprehensively documented its journey since the bid stage, over 20 years ago.

The original research programme commissioned for ‘Liverpool 08’ — the ground-breaking Impacts08 — together with its successor research programme, Impacts 18, collectively represent an unprecedented two decades’ worth of evidence on the impact and value of the ECoC as a catalyst for urban change.

In October 2018, the Institute of Cultural Capital is partnering with Culture Liverpool, CREART and the British Council for a two-day international symposium dedicated to discussing the long term impact (over 30 years) of hosting major events — in so doing, underlining the case for the value of culture as a catalyst for change in cities more generally.

The symposium will discuss opportunities as well as challenges — in particular, what it takes for cities to maintain a distinctive and competitive edge, in an era where becoming a ‘city of culture’ is a common aspiration. Featuring conversations with cities from the UK, Europe and beyond, these discussions will consider not only the rewards that can potentially be reaped by event-led cultural regeneration but also the barriers to, and risks of, success.

Symposium programme

*Note that elements of this programme may be subject to change.

Discussions will evolve around one major research presentation, six plenary sessions and three parallel workshops dedicated to rethinking the big questions that both established and aspiring ‘cities of culture’ face today.

17 October (7pm-9pm)

Official Reception with Mayoral 100 Club
British Music Experience, Pier Head

  • Official Welcome by Harvey Goldsmith
  • Registration opens to delegates


18 October (9am-6pm)

Symposium Day One
Liverpool Town Hall

Longitudinal Research Presentation | Impacts 18: Long term legacies of a European Capital of Culture

  • Keynote: Dr Beatriz Garcia presents core findings from the ICC longitudinal research programme, interrogating Liverpool’s experience from 2000 to 2008, and from 2008 to 2018.
  • Roundtable chaired by Andrea Nixon: From European Capitals of Culture to UK Cities of Culture. Panellists: Beatriz Garcia, Phil Redmond, Claire McColgan, Martin Green

In conversation | Beyond the post-industrial 

30 years on, what do we mean by cultural renaissance cities? Do we still need a ‘rags-to-riches’ narrative to appreciate cities of culture?

  • Keynote: Prof Ann Markusen
  • In conversation: Michael Heseltine and Phil Redmond, chaired by Paula Ridley

Keynote & Roundtable | The risks of success 

What happens to cities when they become the ‘model’ to follow? Can cities enable creativity if they become ‘too good to fail’?

  • Keynote: Jude Kelly
  • Roundtable chaired by Jon Snow. Liverpool in conversation with panellists representing ‘model’ European cities of culture: Barcelona, Berlin, Nantes and Lisbon

Keynote & Roundtable | Bigger is not always better

Can world cities slow down? Can mega-events be culturally sustainable? From mega to micro events in world cities

  • Roundtable chaired by Darren Henley, bringing Liverpool in conversation with global and mega-event cities: London, Paris, Shanghai


19 October (8am-6pm)

Symposium Day Two (with lead partner, CreArt)
Titanic Hotel, Invisible Wind Factory and Liverpool Town Hall

Breakfast welcome & Roundtable discussion | Northern cities

What is the future for culture-led regeneration? Ways forward in Northern cities

  • Breakfast welcome by City Mayor Joe Anderson
  • Roundtable chaired by Alice Webb, with Northern Cities in the UK and across Europe

Roundtable discussion | Cities on the edge

What we can learn from the margins? Port cities, small cities, remote cities of Europe

  • Roundtable chaired by Bob Scott, with panellists representing cities on the edges of Europe, bringing Liverpool in conversation with Marseille, Porto, Kaunas and Genoa.

Liverpool regeneration and reimaging bus tour 

Impacts 18 themed discussions while touring 30 years of culture-led physical transformation

Keynote & Roundtable discussion | Connected cities

Closer or further apart? European cultural networking post-Brexit

  • Keynote: Maria Balshaw
  • Discussion chaired by Michael Parkinson with panellists representing the British Council, CreArt European network, UNESCO Creative Cities network

Parallel Workshops

Parallel sessions discussing the impact of large-scale interventions through three distinct thematic lenses. Each session builds on Impacts 18 evidence. The sessions involve creative interaction techniques to facilitate productive dialogue between academics, practitioners and policy-makers. Participants represent Liverpool and guest cities of culture from across Europe.

Reputation & Creative vibrancy  | Governance & Networks |  Engagement & Wellbeing


Closing statements & Artist Performance
Conference After-Party


Symposium Partners

Event presented by the Institute of Cultural Capital, in partnership with Culture Liverpool, the CreArt European network and the British Council.

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