The importance of culture to a city’s economy, wellbeing and regeneration is something Liverpool is intimately aware of, and as illustrated in the Culture White Paper (2016), is an understanding the government shares. Indeed, in 2014 Arts Council England reported that high school students who engage in arts are twice as likely to volunteer as those who don’t engage in the arts, and are 20 percent more likely to vote as young adults.
As Liverpool’s 2008 European Capital of Culture ten year anniversary approaches, you only need to look at the city’s skyline to see the impact of that momentous year and how it has built on it.
While there’s much to celebrate in 2018, the city has to look ahead to sustain momentum. As 2028 approaches, local government organisations need to plan for the inevitable as well as the unexpected. Shifts in funding highlight the need to nurture public-private sector relationships to form cross-sector models for the delivery of arts and culture because, as referenced in the Liverpool City Region devolution agreement, culture is an integral part of the region’s economic strategy.
The Mayoral 100 Club, Mayor Joe Anderson’s exclusive business initiative, has been driving this agenda since its inception in 2014. It is a frontrunner in developing mutually beneficial relationships between businesses and the city, which in turn helps facilitate Liverpool’s cultural programme. The free annual community focused Mersey River Festival, attracting around 250 000 visitors and an economic boost of £13 million, can take place thanks to the investment of the Mayoral 100 Club members such as Wild Thang, Huyton Asphalt, Peel Ports and others. This is a positive, influential network that truly helps move the city forward with CSR at its heart.
Over half of councils in England operate as an entrepreneur in some respect, and many own a trading company to cover ever-increasing shortfalls in funding. However, Liverpool, with its rich maritime and cultural heritage, is unique in that it uses culture, arts and participation as a vessel for regeneration. In the Culture Liverpool Action Plan 2014 – 2018, Mayor Anderson says: “The city’s offer will surprise, delight and inspire”. This has never been more evident than in the scale and ambition of the Liverpool 2018 campaign – a 12-month programme of transformational cultural events. 2018 aims to shine a spotlight on Liverpool as a place to visit, live, study, work and invest, and the Mayoral 100 Club is the incubator for the continuation of this reality.