It’s that reflective time of year so I thought it would be appropriate to review the highlights of my time as a Cultural Champion, particularly as I will be replaced early next year. It’s also an opportunity to thank the many people who have helped and supported me over the last 18 months.
Art has played a large part in the cultural life of the city. The Tate has put on two major exhibitions, Picasso last year and Magritte this year. Both were enjoyable and enlightening but I must admit that I enjoyed the Picasso most. A real insight into the artist as a political animal. The Bluecoat put on a great exhibition called Democratic Promenade. This gave a real insight into the work of (amongst others) Adrian Henri. A much missed radical poet and artist and made this city what it is today in terms of its political outlook..
My favourite art exhibition though was Paul Trevor’s ‘It’s Like You Were Never Away’ at the Walker. A photographic exhibition of life in Liverpool in the 1970’s. It really showed the great spirit of this place.
In theatre there are two highlights. Antony and Cleopatra at the Playhouse was my first taste of Shakespeare and I really enjoyed it! I guess that Kim Catrall as Cleo helped. My other highlight was the last panto at the old Everyman ‘Wake Up Little Snoozie’. I laughed from start to finish.
Theatre also saw a new addition with the formation of Tell Tale Theatre Company. They got to the semi finals of Sky Arts ‘Stagestruck’ competition as well as producing a 3 night run of ‘1984′ at the Kazimir. Good luck to them next year.
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra went from strength to strength with a great performance of Rachmaninov’s No.2. They performed at the BBC proms and got rave reviews in the national press. Good luck to them in their plans and tours for next year.
In popular music my personal highlight was watching Supercharge at the Mathew St Festival. A great fun group from the Sportsman in the 1970’s. They had a number 1 in Australia and actually played at Richard Branson’s wedding I believe!
It was a difficult year with government cuts biting deep but most of our cultural institutions are doing well. Leading the way are National Museums Liverpool. The splendid new Museum of Liverpool is now fully open and getting record attendances. It’s in a great location and is breathing life into the waterfront. Good to see the Lion locomotive back, brought back happy memories when this was in the museum in William Brown St.
Also, the new Open Eye photography gallery opened at Mann Island.
Some concerns though.
The Mathew St Festival is getting increasingly rowdy. Something should be done about the uncontrolled drinking in the city centre during this festival, an accident waiting to happen.
The cuts to art and culture will affect the ability of our arts groups and our local authority to put on concerts, exhibitions etc. Art and culture is what separate us from animals and give us meaning and identity. I hope the debate with the government continues and that the public purse is used to support this activity as it is as important as healthcare or education in my view. Unfortunately we seem to have a government that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Lets hope this will change next year.
Finally I would like to thank everyone who has helped and supported me over the past year.
My fellow Champions Barb, Kristal, Donna and Becky. Also the staff at Culture Liverpool, particularly Sam McEvoy and Graham Boxer. Also thanks to Ruth Melville and Dave Ellis who ran a research project studying the effects of culture on health and wellbeing (we were their guinea pigs).
Laura Davis and Catherine Jones at Liverpool Daily Post and Echo have given us good coverage. The staff at LARC who have provided invites and tickets, thank you!
Also a big thanks to Mark McNulty who has kindly photographed me and the Liverpool Ukulele Orchestra on a number of occasions. Many thanks too to Charlotte Corrie at Open Culture for much help and support.
A final thanks to my missus for putting up with me generally!
Next year sees a new set of cultural champs selected. I hope they will have as much fun as I’ve had and will play a full part in observing and commenting on the cultural life of our city. It is important that ordinary people take an active role in culture. After all, culture is for you and about you. It is not something separate from life but actually the activity that makes life great!