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Last Updated: Friday, 11 January 2008, 10:21 GMT
Q&A: Becoming Capital of Culture
Liver Building
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Liverpool has been designated a European Capital of Culture for 2008, earning a platform to showcase its cultural life and attract visitors.

But how did it earn this status in the first place?

The European Union launched the Capital of Culture programme to replace the City of Culture status, which began with Athens in 1985.

Every EU member state has been awarded the accolade on rotation for the years up to 2019, and the UK allocated 2008.

It was left to the UK government to decide which of its cities would be nominated.

The Norwegian city of Stavanger has also been named a Capital of Culture for 2008.

How was Liverpool chosen?

Initially, a dozen cities were contesting the title, and a 12-person committee of judges was appointed to evaluate their bids.

Brighton and Hove
Canterbury and East Kent
Inverness and the Highlands
Newcastle and Gateshead

It was chaired by the former general director of the Royal Opera House, Sir Jeremy Isaacs, with ex-BBC presenter Sue MacGregor and Judith Mayhew from the Corporation of London as the deputy chairs.

After the judges visited all 12 cities, they announced a final shortlist of six in October 2002.

The other contenders were Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Newcastle-Gateshead and Oxford.

How did the judging panel weigh up the candidates?

The six cities on the shortlist were visited again and given a chance to expand on their proposals.

Finally, the bidding teams each faced a 90-minute grilling from the judging panel.

The committee then recommended to the Department of Culture that Liverpool be named the eventual winner.

Why was Liverpool chosen?

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".

He added: "A little bit of extra zip from the fan club helps."

Liverpool's cultural strengths include the largest collection of Grade II-listed buildings outside London, one of the best collections of European art outside London - and of course its status as the birthplace of the Beatles.

The then Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell had also highlighted the competition's role as "an engine for regeneration".


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