Participation and engagement
This thematic area provided an overview of demographic and geographic data on participants and non‑participants in cultural activities, and opportunities for cultural engagement 10 years after the Liverpool European Capital of Culture (ECoC), using one core research project as the foundation for these explorations.
This project explored the medium-to-long-term impacts of the ECoC on cultural participation and perceptions of social change in four Liverpool neighbourhoods – City Centre, Aigburth, Kirkdale and Knotty Ash.
Drawing on, and updating, the methodology adopted by Impacts 08 between 2007-2009, the study consisted of:
- A door-to-door survey of 800 residents (200 in each neighbourhood)
- Semi-structured interviews and focus groups that built on parallel research conducted in Liverpool over the same period.
This combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches provided a holistic and nuanced exploration of residents’ participation in cultural activity, their perceptions of the neighbourhood they live in and the wider city, and their memories of the ECoC in 2008.
This study is the first of its kind to examine the multiple, medium to long-term impacts of an ECoC on local cultural participation. It presented a key opportunity to gain insights into the perceived lasting effects of mega events, like the ECoC, on perceptions of the city and local residents’ cultural practices.
The testimony of participants was used to frame a series of neighbourhood case studies – placing the voices of residents, and their neighbourhood narratives, at the centre of the research.
- Consistent satisfaction with the city’s cultural offer since 2008 – qualitative data shows a general feeling that there was still plenty to do in Liverpool.
- Collective love for public art and festivals – focus group participants described one of the most pleasurable experiences of the ECoC, and other arts events, was the element of surprise of encountering unexpected art events and festivals in the public space.
- A turning point for perceptions of Liverpool – the ECoC was seen by focus group participants as fundamentally changing the way Liverpool was regarded nationally, internationally and locally. It was an opportunity to redefine Liverpool’s image and combat negative stereotypes that had been perpetuated by the press. Participants described feeling a great deal of pride, something that they had never experienced before. It became a way for them to positively engage with their city and understand their own cultural heritage.
- The importance of Shopping – when asked about cultural participation, focus group attendees frequently brought up shopping, both as playing a significant role in bringing people into closer proximity to street performances, galleries and museums, and as a cultural activity in its own right.