Deconstructing the Capital of
Presented by Alex Nolan
N.B. THIS IS NOT AN IT PRESENTATION!
Good afternoon, my name’s Alex Nolan, and I’m involved with IT Projects and
managing Computer Systems for a Social Housing provider in Merseyside and further
I’ve gone for the soft option today and come up with a talk which really has very little
to do with IT, though it is interesting from a Project Management perspective. We’re
going to talk about Liverpool’s ‘Capital of Culture’ year and what it means to the city,
particularly this new so-called ‘creative quarter’ that we’re sitting in right now. Sorry
if you were expecting another IT talk here, but it’s good to take a break occasionally
Disclaimer time: I’m not an arts expert, nor do I know anyone who’s had an input into
the Capital of Culture, so I’m really coming at this from a local person’s perspective.
I’d like to learn new stuff from this talk too, so please throw any ideas in as we go
What is culture? I’m not really sure! Why have a Capital of Culture?
What cultural stuff has gone on?
Opening ceremony (with…erm, Ringo)
Lots of Community Projects
So firstly, what’s actually gone on during the year? Has anyone got any examples of
things they’ve been to or heard about?
Here’s a few events that have had some press. By all accounts the Opening
ceremony was a mixed bag, but certainly in the second half of the year we’ve had
some pretty unique things going on. Special mention to the Power Plant installation
at Calderstones Park – I personally thought that was just magnificent.
It’s also had a knock-on effect on a number of other cultural things that happen in
Liverpool. Liverpool Music Week was particularly good this year, obviously including
the MTV awards on the final day, and the Biennial has gained a new level of
coherence as galleries and installations across Merseyside came together to present
something pretty special.
What does it mean to you?
New Places to Shop* flickr.com/photos/7198892@N06
Fun stuff to do on the flickr.com/photos/barneyfinlayson
Opportunities to /2279314645/sizes/m/
Boost to the service
Culture Survey -
* Oh hang on we’re supposed to do that online
An article last Wednesday on Samantha Parker’s ‘Miss Culture’ LDP blog got me
thinking about the Capital of Culture year. The Echo are running a survey at the
moment to give you a say on what you liked most about the year.
Certainly in my case I’ve spent a great many hours at cultural events this year and I’ve
enjoyed every minute.
Photos removed to avoid copyright issues.
What does it really mean?
All of the above
None of the above
First, a history lesson
We’re going to
concentrate on the area
Ok, so that’s great, but how has this come about? Have Europe and Liverpool City
Council put all of this together out of the goodness of their hearts?
Well, not exactly, but to explain what’s really going on I’d like to go off on a tangent
for a minute.
Ye Olden Times
◦ City Centre used to
be where Liverpool
One is now
◦ Huge amount of
NOVAS & Jamaica
◦ Where has it gone?
Now if we’ve got any historians in today, please feel free to correct me – I’m just
going on my understanding of local history as I’ve picked it up this year.
The area we’re talking about is ringed on that map. We’re in the building marked
with a cross, and to get some perspective, the A is the Albert Docks. So you can see
we’re talking about a sizable portion of the city.
In fact until World War II, the centre of Liverpool was pretty much where Liverpool
One stands today. South of the main docks, in the area we’re in right now, you had
at one point around 120 warehouses, and the NOVAS building itself was created by
knocking through the walls of 10 warehouses. Also in this area lived dock workers
and Liverpool’s immigrant population, and there was literally a pub on every street
It’s famous for being the home of Miss Kitty Wilkinson, who ran the world’s first
public wash house about 3 roads from here in the mid 1800s to combat the Cholera
epidemic. There was also extensive rioting in Liverpool throughout the 18th and 19th
Centuries, firstly through racial tensions and rising unemployment, and later because
everyone panicked due to the Cholera, and this all started around here. The area
was bombed extensively during the war, and everyone moved out to either Toxteth
or what we now call China Town.
Since then not a lot’s gone on. Light industry has taken over, very few people live
here, and areas of land stand empty – well until now. And that’s the main problem
that Liverpool faced really up until towards the end of the 1990s – not a lot was going
on anywhere, and the other Northern cities left it for dead.
Photos courtesy of http://www.leverpoole.co.uk and Liverpool Record Office.
What does it really mean?
Liverpool has a 511445/
◦ Grab as much
investment as possible
◦ Regenerate as much as
Where does Culture
Phil Redmond CBE, Creative
fit in? Director of the Capital of
Culture & Really Happy Guy
Over in Liverpool’s corridors of power, there’s a company called Liverpool Vision. It’s
made up of all the usual council types, and they have some quite simple aims: get
investment, and regenerate the city.
And that’s it.
Everything you see this year has come about through these long term goals – they
are in essence a means to an end. If you ever wonder why Phil Redmond is *so*
miserable when you see him on TV, it’s probably because he’s trying to promote
creativity and cultural identity in a world of big business and property development.
Fortunately for us, to a large extent he’s succeeded anyway, and it’s been a fun year.
But don’t forget that it’s part of a wider plan.
Photo removed to avoid copyright issues
Legacy of the Capital of Culture
Future of the Baltic
Was it really a
There’s no doubt that focussing this Culture year on developing a new city
infrastructure has paid off, and that process has still got a way to go – the canal will
fully open in the spring, and a number of new developments are on the way in this
area – Parliament Street Warehouses will be another NOVAS style space for bands
and audio companies funded by the producers behind The Zutons, and also the
complex across the road from here will bring a a lot of new life to this part of South
The yellow roads on the map there outline the plans to link up this area with the
main part of town by encouraging new business. The oncoming recession appears to
have slowed things down a bit, but the Baltic Triangle plans were always meant to be
for the next 10 – 15 years, which might work in its favour.
Was the Capital of Culture a success? Not for everyone - Cains, Ethel Austin and
Sayers – the 3 main sponsors – have all entered administration this year! But I think
the consensus is yes.
Important to remember
Doesn’t matter how it’s come about, if
you’ve enjoyed it
Benefits will be felt in this area of the city
for many years
More from me at:
Chances are that a lot of people here know more about the Capital of Culture than I
do, so please speak up!