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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Why Liverpool won
Liverpool's unexpected success at being chosen European City of Culture for 2008 came for a number of reasons.

It was a close run race, but in the words of Sir Jeremy Isaacs, chairman of the judges' panel, what swung it for Liverpool was a "greater sense... that the whole city is involved in the bid and behind the bid.

"A little bit of extra zip from the fan club helps," he added.

There was broad agreement with that view among those who had been cheerleaders for the Merseyside city.

"There was a hunger to win this bid," Thomas O'Brien, chief executive of the Merseyside Partnership, told BBC News Online.

LIVERPOOL'S CULTURAL STRENGTHS
The city has:
the largest collection of Grade II-listed buildings outside London
2,500 listed buildings and 250 public monuments
one of the best collections of European art outside London
the fifth largest cathedral in the world
been a location for 140 films in the last year and has doubled for Moscow, Dublin, Paris & Venice
"The desire wasn't just among a small team, it was in the taxi drivers, the school children, the greeters at the airport, the people in the dance and arts communities."

The feeling that the emphasis on local people was helping the city edge ahead of the competition was in evidence throughout the bid. When the judges visited earlier this year, city arts worker Geri Moriarty made that very point.

"I think when bids like this are put together the community is tacked on at the end. But it's not been like that in Liverpool, it's been completely central all the way through," she said.

"In fact quite a large proportion of the money that was there for developing the bid was there to support community projects."

The judges also pointed to a city which "looked good, sounded good and feels good to be in".

Ken Dodd
Ken Dodd, part of the influential 'fan club'?
In Mr O'Brien's eye, it came down to three crucial factors: "Our international status - Liverpool is a city that is well known in north America and across Europe.

"The second factor was the strength of our cultural offering. Our reputation for music is second to none while our museums have a national status. And thirdly there is our architecture - we have more listed buildings than anywhere else in England except for London."

Liverpool has long prided itself on punching above its weight culturally. While the Beatles are the city's most obvious export, it views itself as a hugely fertile place which has supplied the country with a role call of poets, musicians, playwrights, footballers, politicians and comedians.

The ranks of these Liverpudlians, who have gone on to high-profile and often influential positions in society, may well form the "fan club" for the city to which Sir Jeremy referred.

Many of the notable Liverpudlians were commemorated in a recent collage by pop artist Sir Peter Blake, in the style of his iconic cover for Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Modern art galleries are common now, but in those days this was unheard of
Lewis Biggs on the Tate coming to Liverpool in 1987
As well as some of the better known names - John Peel, Cilla Black, Ken Dodd and Alan Bleasdale - it includes people less known for having local connections, including Oscar-winner Halle Berry, whose mother came from Liverpool, and Mike Myers, whose father was a Liverpool salesman.

Setting out Liverpool's strengths, Sir Jeremy said: "The pack of cards that Liverpool holds in the visual arts is enormously strong... the splendours of the waterside in Liverpool and the city centre are at least as architecturally imposing and magnificent as any of the cities."

For Lewis Biggs, chief executive of the Liverpool Biennial arts show, the root of this victory goes back 16 years, to the opening of the city's Tate Gallery in 1987.

Until then the Tate had always been an institution based in London with a mix of modern and traditional art. It's Liverpool annex, based in the regenerated Albert Dock, became England's first dedicated national modern art gallery.

"It was a big straw in the wind. Modern art galleries are common now, but in those days this was unheard of. The message it gave, indirectly, was 'here's a place worth investing in which can hold itself against the competition'.

"It was the model for the Tate splitting itself in London; the model for Tate Modern."


SEE ALSO:
Liverpool named Capital of Culture
04 Jun 03  |  Entertainment


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