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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
North West: Culture shock?
Lucy Breakwell
Politics Show North West

One of the most famous skylines in the world

The Liverpool Culture Company, charged with developing the programme for the Capital of Culture year, has held a reception at the House of Commons.

It was a publicity dream come true for the organisers of the event when Sir Paul McCartney dropped in to lend his support.

The main announcements were a 2m sponsorship deal with the North West Development Agency and plans for the build up to "Capital of Culture, 2008".

Capital of Culture 2008
The EU Capital of Culture is hosted by Britain in 2008
The clash of British cities started in 2002 with a list of 12
This was whittled down to a short list of six in November 2002 when Belfast, Bradford, Brighton, Canterbury, Inverness, and Norwich were eliminated
The finalist were Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, NewcastleGateshead, Oxford
In June 2003, Tessa Jowell announced that Liverpool had won the prestigious culture crown

In 2005 the emphasis is on the sea, with the start of the round the world clipper race and the silver anniversary of the Mersey River Festival.

But despite the glittering party and the celebrity endorsements, there is concern that although the Culture Company now employs 80 people progress in planning big events is slow.

Politics Show North West is live from the Walker Art Gallery and we ask: How well prepared is Liverpool for 2008?

The Leader of Liverpool City Council, Mike Storey and Jason Harborow, Senior Director of the Liverpool Culture Company join the programme.

People celebrate the news of Liverpool's win
Liverpool Council claim preparations for 2008 are going well

Big idea

Although everyone in Liverpool is thrilled at hosting the celebrations, there is a perception amongst the Liverpool arts world that little has happened so far and that there is no "big idea" for 2008.

Alex Corina, the artist who created the 'Mona Lennon', which has been used to promote Liverpool as the European Capital of Culture says he is worried about too much concentration on the city centre and not enough on communities outside.

Alex said: "Lots of positive things have happened but there does not seem to be an overall strategic plan.

"We have put forward plans to create a cultural quarter in Garston and wanted to do a feasibility study.

"The Capital of Culture people would not fund it - but the city council passed a motion saying they backed the idea.

"So who is in charge? Do the Council and the Capital of Culture Company know what the other is doing."

Impressive progress?

Politics Show North West quizzed Giles Agis, the Executive Director of Brouhaha International who organise one of Britain's biggest carnivals and run a three week festival of street entertainment every year in Liverpool.

Giles has worked on three other Capitals of Culture and says he is impressed with much of what has happened so far in Liverpool.

Giles said: "They are having themed years leading up to 2008.

"2005 is the Year of the Sea - a great idea and gives a real focus to the build up.

"Capital of Culture has to engage people - remember this bid was won on the back of a perception that the entire city was behind the idea not just a cultural elite.

"The organisers have to make sure that all the people are involved."

And it seems that getting the general public involved is the key to a successful Capital of Culture Year.

Politics Show North West

The current Capital of Culture is the City of Cork in South West Ireland and Politics Show reporter Gill Dummigan has been to Cork to see how the celebrations are going.

There has been some criticism levelled at the organisers who have been accused of being too slow to get going and too elitist with their programme of events.

A splinter group of artists in Cork has set up an organisation called "Where's Me Culture " and has organised an alternative programme of cultural events for the year.

A taste of things to come in Liverpool? Or Not?

So join Jim Hancock on Sunday, 12 June 2005 at 12.00pm, for the Politics Show on BBC One.

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Politics from around the UK...

City steps up 2008 culture plans
19 May 05 |  Merseyside
City reveals culture plans to MPs
18 May 05 |  Merseyside
City spends millions on culture
04 Apr 05 |  Merseyside


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