I’d been shopping in Marks & Spencer the other day. When I walked outside I stood stock still looking like a drooling fool until one of my colleagues came along and asked if I was ok. Truth was, I’d had a sudden and overwhelming sense that I no longer knew my life.
My life used to be quiet and sedate and now here I am, a Cultural Champion, and life has become a great big massive whirl.
One of the things that’s surprised me more than anything is the sheer amount of stuff there is to see and do in Liverpool. Another is the fact that, no matter what event you go to, there are always loads of other people who already know all about it. I wasn’t prepared for this at all. Had I been living under a cultural rock all this time?
I was out with my favourite +1 friend, Vickie, one night at a packed event and we were wondering how all of these people know about all the stuff that’s going on. Now we’re a couple of generally savvy, up-and-at-em women, but we never knew about all the stuff out there. As we pondered this, Vickie quite eloquently said,
This is like An Idiot Abroad in your own city.
She couldn’t have been more right.
The other thing I’ve done is I’ve started to look up. It doesn’t sound much, but it’s made a massive difference to me. As I go about my daily business, instead of looking down, or at my phone, or, more often, inward, I’ve actually opened my eyes and looked at what’s happening around me. It’s amazing and I urge you to do it.
On my way home one night, instead of flicking through Facebook and Twitter on my phone, I looked out of the window of the bus I was on. As I did I saw adverts for shows and events I could go to and I witnessed the gorgeous sight of a guy with a guitar, an amp and a mic on the corner of Mathew Street singing Fast Car while no-one else noticed him. I wish he could’ve seen me watching him. He was great.
As we approach the last two months of being Cultural Champions, trying to pack in everything we can, I’m astonished at the sheer volume of things there are to do.
Last night as I was waiting for the bus home after a particularly great event we’d been to, I listened to two strangers having a conversation at the bus stop. One guy was from Cumbria and the other, from Liverpool, was asking him about life in the city. The guy from Cumbria talked so passionately about the culture in Liverpool, I was really proud of my city and very moved as he said, “There’s so much culture in this place, I don’t think you realise how lucky you are.”
Well I for one am starting to see that. In the next two short months, I’ll never fit in everything I want to and so I’ll simply carry on into 2013 and beyond. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Just get your family, your friends, or even – as I’ve done – people you know vaguely, and go out and see what’s on offer. Sod the housework, the ironing, the garden – they’ll all be there when you get back – and, like me, you might just find it changes everything for you. Like me, you might just find that it will change your relationships with others, your relationship with this wonderful, unique city, maybe even your life.
After receiving 90 nominations, Liverpool’s 2012 Cultural Champions can now be announced, they are: John Wishart of Fairfield, Andre Olchowski of Croxteth Country Park, Andrea McGuire-Seery of Stoneycroft and Ray Fosberg of Allerton.
Nominations came from all parts of Liverpool and from all backgrounds, highlighting the mass of enthusiasm and passion there is for Liverpool. The panel spent hours deliberating the final group, but decided upon a great team of new champions who will now take the scheme forward for 2012.
Liverpool is an inspiring place, which is bursting at the seams with world-class galleries, museums, performance venues and heritage sites. The Cultural Champions scheme celebrates and promotes Liverpool’s cultural life by supporting the champions to get involved and experience more of what the city has to offer, whilst creating their own commentary on the city’s arts and culture through their own blog, on local radio and newspapers.
In 2010, Liverpool City Council launched the Cultural Champions scheme as a legacy to the city’s tenure as 2008 European Capital of Cultural. Following the success of the initial scheme, the Cultural Champions programme will be delivered by Liverpool based social enterprise Open Culture on behalf of Culture Liverpool.
The 2012 scheme will build on the strengths of 2010’s programme, informed by the experiences of the outgoing champions who will become mentors for the new champions.
John Wishart one of the new Cultural Champions said: “I can’t wait to get started in my new role as one of Liverpool’s Cultural Champions, there is so much in Liverpool to discover, enjoy and tell everybody about. I’m really looking forward to all the new adventures.”
Charlotte Corrie, Open Culture Director said: “The panel had a tough job choosing the final 2012 Cultural Champions from the huge response we had; every nominee could have been a champion in their own unique way. But after much discussion the panel have chosen a great group to experience and comment on an exciting year of culture ahead.”
Councillor Wendy Simon, Liverpool’s cabinet member for culture and tourism said: “We’ve been so impressed by the mass of nominations received for this scheme, its great to see so much love and passion for our great city. We are very much looking forward to the new champions starting and I’m glad Open Culture is on-board to guide them through a great year.”
You can follow their cultural journey on their blog www.liverpoolculturalchampions.com
Over the past couple of months nominations for Liverpool’s 2012 Cultural Champions have been flooding in! With over 90 nominations made, the selection panel had a tough time choosing who should represent the city for the year. We’ll be ready to announce who they chose very soon.
The new scheme will build on the strengths of 2010’s programme informed by the experiences of the outgoing champions who are: Paul Argent from Mossley Hill, Kristal Clarke from Wavertree, Donna Williamson from Vauxhall, Barbara McGrouther from Old Swan and Becky Smith from Alt Valley. During their voluntary reign as champions they blogged about their cultural comings and goings, represented the city at major events, met dignitaries and started their own personal cultural events and campaigns.
We’d like to say a big thank you to the outgoing champions, who have done a tremendous job. They will still be involved with the scheme, mentoring the new selected champions through their year.
Open Culture, a Liverpool social enterprise will be running the scheme on behalf of Liverpool City Council. Charlotte Corrie, Open Culture Director said:
“ We will be guiding the 2012 champions through an exciting year of cultural experiences, learning and giving them the means and platforms to express their ideas and opinions about the arts publicly, whether that’s online, in person or through newspapers and the radio!”
Barbara McGrouther 2010 Cultural Champion said,
“I have enjoyed every minute of being a Cultural Champion, and have gained new friends, new skills and learned even more about the city I love. I think that any person interested in people, community, and the arts, who can give time and passion to the role would have a year to remember for the rest of their lives.”