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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
'Liverpool is more than the Beatles'
Merseyview's photo of the Yellow Lamb Banana
Is it a banana? Is it a lamb? No, it's a sculpture

As the final six cities battle it out for the title of European Capital of Culture 2008, Laura Davis argues that the city on the Mersey will take some beating.
In front of the oldest ship's chandlers in Liverpool stands a giant yellow sculpture - half lamb, half banana - that both intrigues and confuses passers-by.

Your shortlist:
Newcastle/Gateshead led with 17.5%
Liverpool got 14%
And Oxford 11.9%
More than 12,000 votes received
The 15-foot Super Lamb Banana, created by Japanese artist Tara Chiezo, is a vibrant addition to the otherwise historic area of the city's docklands.

Two minutes walk away are the magnificent 19th Century buildings of the Albert Dock where some of the country's most celebrated modern art hangs on the walls of the Liverpool Tate. This perfect balance between new and old makes Liverpool the obvious choice for Capital of Culture 2008.

Rich pickings

There can be no city in the UK, other than London, which is as instantly recognisable to the outside world as Liverpool.

Grand National is held at Aintree
The Grand National raises pulses annually
From its famous waterfront to its sporting history, the city's name is known across the globe. No other UK city can boast that it has more listed buildings - again, bar London - or that it was at the epicentre of the explosion of popular music in the 1960s.

But Liverpool's fine architecture and rich heritage are not enough to win it the Capital of Culture crown. The city must convince the judges that it is not clinging to the past but has built on its foundations for the future.

It must also show it has more to offer than high art for the elite few.

Ferry across the Mersey
Perhaps the only ferry immortalised in song?
With its many celebrated theatres, art galleries and museums as well as the world-famous Philharmonic Orchestra, Liverpool is home to some of the finest examples of traditional culture in the world.

But outside the city centre, in the communities, some unusual and fascinating customs are waiting to be discovered.

Diversity and division

Liverpool has always been a place where community matters, from 1207 when the first traders moved to what was then a tiny hamlet to set up their homes.

Chinatown gate
Its Chinatown is the oldest in Europe
The following centuries saw immigrants from all over the world debarking at one of Europe's largest ports, many settling in the city.

Today, their descendants celebrate their diverse cultures within their own communities and are often keen to share them with outsiders.

Europe's biggest Chinese archway forms the entrance to the city's Chinese quarter whilst in community and religious centres across the city, Caribbean, Yemeni and Somali groups take part in traditional art, music and dance.

Police clash with protesters in the Toxteth riots
Toxteth riots: Tensions rose in summer 1981
There are still some people who insist on portraying Liverpool as a crumbling city, living off its past glories. But while it still has its economic and social problems, it has come a long way since the Toxteth riots of the early 1980s.

Its vibrant night-time culture, with clubs such as Cream famous worldwide, and the revitalisation of historic buildings to provide chic living apartments show the city is capable of looking to the future.

For the people

The Capital of Culture should be about more than showcasing existing cultural achievements - 2008 should be a year of spectacular events celebrating all aspects of the city.

Michael Owen celebrates
Liverpool scooped the UEFA Cup last year
It should not be targeted solely at those who already appreciate the arts but should also aim to spark an interest in those who find culture almost inaccessible.

With an extensive programme of festivals each year - each drawing on an element of the city's cultural background - Liverpool has a proven track record in this area.

The annual Mathew Street festival, which pays homage to The Beatles, draws crowds of 500,000 and is televised across the globe.

Beatles statue
Mod squad: The Beatles hail from Liverpool
Europe's largest free African music festival takes place here once a year, with more than 150 performers at venues across the city.

You only have to look at the expressions of the people taking part to see that if Liverpool was chosen as the cultural capital, it would inspire, excite and fire the imaginations of those drawn here by the prestigious title.

They, and those who live and work in Liverpool, would not only be encouraged to appreciate the city's valuable contribution to the arts but would also have the chance to discover cultures from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds.

On the next two Fridays, we will be looking at the bids from the other two cities on your shortlist.

Click here to go to Liverpool

Results of your vote into European city of cultureCulture vote
Results of your voting on UK cultural cities
See also:

17 May 02 | UK
10 May 02 | UK
22 Mar 02 | UK
04 Jul 01 | UK
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