The Impacts 18 research programme will adhere to the thematic framework established by Impacts 08, covering the same five key thematic clusters explored by the original research: city image and reputation; cultural participation and access; cultural and creative vibrancy; economic and tourism development; and cultural governance and leadership.
Impacts 08 uncovered significant changes with respect to each of these thematic clusters, over a period of study which included the years both before and immediately after the European Capital of Culture.
Perhaps most significantly, media representations of Liverpool, which for many years had focused disproportionately on the negative depiction of social issues, altered over time to incorporate a greater degree of positive and thematically varied coverage — with this trend also accompanied by an improvement in external perceptions of Liverpool among the UK population. Local perceptions of Liverpool likewise evolved noticeably in the run-up to 2008, with fewer local people perceiving those outside the city to hold negative views about Liverpool, and with an increasing number of local residents agreeing that Liverpool was better than other cities for hotels, music, galleries and shopping. In terms of local cultural governance, Impacts 08 also demonstrated how preparations for the capital of culture year helped to catalyse the development of stronger, better-organised cultural sector networks, as well as the repositioning of culture as more central to cross-sectoral policy agendas.
Picking up where Impacts 08 left off, the aim of the current research will be to determine how strong and enduring these impacts have proven in the long term, by extending datasets that were compiled at the time and by gathering new data using the methods outlined here. The outcome of the project will be a retrospective on the Liverpool ECoC and its effects which, in its ability to span a period of over 10 years (and up to 20 in the case of some datasets), will be the most ambitious study of a single ECoC, in terms of temporal breadth, since research by Dr. García on the long-term legacies of the Glasgow 1990 European City of Culture year.