Liverpool to lead global cultural conversation

Added on Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

This October, cultural heavyweights from across the world will converge on Liverpool for a conference exploring the big questions that cities face today in their uses of culture, with a timely focus on the ten-year legacy of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture 2008.

Cities of Culture 30 Years On: Who Has the Edge? is an international symposium taking place on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 October 2018. It will see world-renowned speakers head to Liverpool Town Hall to discuss experiences in cities big and small, from Barcelona to Shanghai, Marseille to London and Porto to Los Angeles. Together, these cities will question the nature of cultural renaissance in the 21st century, consider the potential risks of success, discuss the impact of local and international partnership working, and debate whether going bigger is always better.

Key speakers for the symposium include:

  • Professor Ann Markusen – Leading scholar on urban planning, regional and industrial economics for the University of Minnesota.
  • Jon Snow – Distinguished TV presenter and former student at the University of Liverpool.
  • Maria Balshaw CBE – Director of the Tate art museums and galleries.
  • Lord Michael Heseltine – Conservative politician and former cabinet member who, as ‘Minister for Merseyside’, played a key role in the city’s regeneration in the 1980s.
  • Ulrich Fuchs –Member of the European Capital of Culture selection committee, former Artistic Director of the European Capital of Culture years for both Marseille-Provence (2013) and Linz (2009).
  • Jude Kelly CBE – Founder and Director of the Women of the World festival and former Artistic Director of the Southbank.
  • Alice Webb – Director of BBC North and BBC Children’s.
  • Darren Henley OBE – Chief Executive of Arts Council England and author of a number of books specialising in art.
  • Tamara Rojo – Artistic Director for the English National Ballet.
  • Martin Green CBE – Chair of Middle Child theatre company’s Board of Directors and former Hull UK City of Culture Chief Executive and Director.
  • Professor Michael Parkinson CBE – Adviser to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Liverpool. Former director of the European Institute of Urban Affairs.

They will be joined by representatives from Liverpool’s arts and cultural sector, who played a key role in the city’s successful bid to become European Capital of Culture, as well as the delivery of the year itself.

As part of the symposium, Dr Beatriz Garcia, Director of Institute of Cultural Capital, will reveal early findings from the Impacts 18 research programme — a 20-year longitudinal study charting Liverpool’s journey since bidding for the European Capital of Culture title.

Research began with the Impacts 08 programme which spanned 2005-2010 and evaluated the social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts of Liverpool holding the cultural accolade.

Impacts 18 continues this vital research and examines how this experience has evolved a decade on. The research interrogates the legacy of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture across five main themes:

  • City image and reputation
  • Participation and wellbeing
  • Governance and leadership
  • Cultural vibrancy
  • Economy and tourism


The findings of the report will be unveiled at the conference and is expected to reveal if culture has really made a difference since 2008, what the level of engagement with culture is in the city, how has it changed people’s perceptions of the city and is it really a catalyst for wellbeing?

A debate will take place around whether having the cultural accolade has made a difference to Liverpool since 2008. From changing media representations and perceptions of the city to being a catalyst for wellbeing; changing levels of cultural engagement across neighbourhoods, to shaping resident’s sense of place; from changing levels of visitor engagement with culture to enhancing governance and cultural leadership.

To complement the announcement of this internationally significant symposium and research, a brand new legacy website has been launched which looks back at Liverpool’s special culture year and includes key information documenting 2018. To find out more visit www.liverpoolculturallegacy.co.uk.


Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “I don’t think anyone who lives or has visited Liverpool could be in doubt of the transformative power of culture. “A decade ago, this city was propelled into the limelight for all the right reasons and culture was at the heart of that. It changed this city physically and emotionally – we got our swagger back and we haven’t lost it since.

“As part of this special anniversary year, we wanted to bring big cultural players from across the globe to share their experiences of culture and uncover the vital lessons we can learn from each other.

“It is also the perfect opportunity for the team behind the Impacts 18 report to unveil their findings and showcase exactly what the legacy of ’08 has been.

“To stage this international symposium and welcome these highly-respected speakers to the city is a huge coup for Liverpool – and I couldn’t think of a more fitting location than a city that lives and breathes culture.”


Director of the Institute of Cultural Capital, Beatriz Garcia, said: “No other city has documented the journey surrounding a major cultural intervention and its multiple impacts as extensively as Liverpool, and it is the first time these questions are revisited a decade onwards.

“This is why, this coming October, cities around the world will benefit from engaging in the conversation and identifying areas worth replicating. City leaders, practitioners and researchers have accumulated over 30 years of debate about the merits of culture-led regeneration across the globe, calling it the ‘Barcelona model’ or the ‘Bilbao effect’.

“In parallel, we also have over three decades of criticism and warnings: from the risks of gentrification to the fear of empty, unused grand spaces or ‘white elephants’.

“This symposium will engage with actual evidence and discuss how to capture it. From explaining what leads to an ‘image renaissance’ to assessing what makes stakeholders act collectively, we will present unquestionable evidence about the value of culture for city development and explain what does – or fails to – sustain over time.”


For more information about running orders or to buy tickets for this unique conference visit www.ticketquarter.co.uk/online/impacts-18. Early Bird tickets are £95 (including VAT) for both days, and once they have gone, the price will increase to £140 (including VAT).


Cities of Culture 30 Years On: Who Has the Edge? forms part of the Liverpool 2018 programme which celebrates the tenth anniversary of the game-changing European Capital of Culture Year. The conference is supported by the British Council and CreART. CreART is a European network of public and private institutions committed to developing the cultural, social and economic offer of cities.


For more information on CREART visit: www.creart2-eu.org

For more information about events taking place this year, visit www.visitliverpool.com/2018.

For more information about associated research, visit www.iccliverpool.ac.uk and www.impacts18.net

What they say


Juan González-Posada, CreArt Coordinator EU: “We are delighted to be part of this important conference which ties in with our own experience of development of culture in cities.  Our own research has revealed the importance of culture-led strategies and the promotion of creativity to contribute to social innovation, economic growth, and the image and internationalization of cities. It also revealed the enrichment of the local cultural offer; the appearance of new creative spaces and the positive impact on the artistic community. Local artists are the main players in the events organized by CreArt, contributing to a creative atmosphere in the city. Our experience has shown us that European cities differ from each other in many ways, but we all come together with the common desire of cooperation and to improve the lives of our artists and citizens.”

Kathy McArdle, Director England and Cities for the British Council: “Liverpool is the perfect location for a robust debate on the new typologies of cultural cities which are emerging in our age of multiple accelerations. It offers a unique opportunity to debate the shifting dynamics of culture in cities around the world and in the UK with a host of internationally-recognised speakers and thought leaders. This conference could only happen in Liverpool, after its ten years of growth since the city was European capital of culture in 20008, and because of the sustained longitudinal research carried out by the Institute of Cultural capital. Join us for this engaging conference to take a glimpse into the future of culture in our cities.”

Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate: “Tate Liverpool opened in 1988 as part of the regeneration of the Albert Dock and was one of the main catalysts for huge change in the city. Since then, Liverpool has experienced a renaissance, with flourishing universities and a lively arts and culture scene moving the city from being perceived to be in decline to the third most popular city tourism destination in the UK. Tate Liverpool has played a key role in the success of the city and over the past three decades the gallery has established itself as the most visited modern and contemporary art gallery outside of London.”

Ulrich Fuchs, member of the Selection and Monitoring Panel of the European Capital of Culture: “I’m very much looking forward to coming back to Liverpool, where I spent some time when I was a teenager, and again in 2008. I was programme director for two European Capitals of Culture: Linz 2009 and Marseille-Provence 2013. So I am curious to share my experiences with colleagues about our legacy!”

Jon Snow: “The cultural conversation is a hugely important one and I’m pleased to be chairing a discussion around the subject, in a city which is a prime example of what sort of catalyst culture can be for positive change. “In a time when culture may not be at the top of the agenda for many cities, sharing global experiences about what keeps a destination relevant, edgy and of course successful, is vital in this current climate.”

Jude Kelly, Founder and Director Women of the World: “The power of culture to transform lives, communities and nations is understood by many but constantly needs reinforcing and developing as part of the natural way we organise policies and resources and also how we assemble the ingredients necessary to achieve progress and prosperity.”

Martin Green, Former Chief Executive & Director, Hull 2017 UK City of Culture: “Culture is a rollercoaster ride of experimentation. Some things don’t always go to plan whereas others exceed your expectations and that is the joy of this sector – you can try new things, push boundaries, learn from the experience and improve the offer time and time again. Regardless of my role – whether it’s leading a team in the run up to, and during, a milestone cultural year, or working for smaller grassroots organisations, the aim is always the same – to engage audiences and create unforgettable memories. I’m very much looking forward to heading to Liverpool in October to not only share what I’ve learned, but debate the subject with counterparts from across the world at what is set to be a thought-provoking and fascinating conference.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England: “There is no greater example than Liverpool of a city that has arts and culture so firmly baked into its DNA.  At Arts Council England we are proud to help share that message with the rest of the world.”

Prof Ann Markusen, University of Minnesota: “I look forward to sharing my work on American, British and Brazilian cities, large and small, with creative place-making initiatives, and drawing lessons on the challenges of diversity and displacement.”

Cristina Farinha, Culture & Creative Economy Expert at the Sociology Institute of the University of Porto: “Liverpool’s image of an up and coming dynamic city from the north that invested seriously in understanding the impacts of its cultural development has always impressed me. I am really excited to have the opportunity to be in Liverpool to discuss why culture matters and now more than ever and experience the city´s vibrant life.”


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