BLOG: Culture, what is it good for… absolutely everything!

With the launch of the Culture Collective campaign, Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy, Councillor Harry Doyle writes about the true value of culture to Liverpool.

A statement that embodies more meaning than it perhaps realised, “culture, what is it good for? Absolutely everything” and it couldn’t be more true, especially in a city so effervescent with culture, art and heritage as Liverpool.

During a global pandemic, it could be easy to forget the intrinsic value our arts and cultural scene in Liverpool have, and do play, on a daily basis. After all, while we have been locked down, isolating in our homes and taking the world by zoom-storm, our theatre boards have been left untrod, our heritage buildings eerily empty , and our music venues have been silenced.

But, to accept the silence and the darkness of a life without our arts and cultural scene would be remiss and full of folly. Can you just imagine Liverpool without the humanising nature of our arts and cultural scene? What would life be without our museums, libraries, theatres, and galleries? Without our literature, music, history, and creativity? Indeed, what would life be, without a song — who would we be?

In a city so in tune with our musical heritage, our maritime legacy, and our creative cultural scene — without it, what humanising and uniting force would we have? Without our arts and cultural scene, we would be without a soul and heart — after all, they define Liverpool and make us the global destination we have come to take for granted.

Our history, heritage and harmony have made us who we are, and today we continue to curate a vibrant and diverse cultural scene which has been vastly impacted by the global pandemic. While our much-loved cultural organisations have struggled to survive, they have continued to provide vital social and economic benefits to the people of Liverpool. This improves learning, reduces health inequalities, improves our mental and physical health, provides opportunities to enhance our quality of life regardless of background and unites our communities, increasing tolerance and bridging divides.

In 2021 alone the city’s cultural organisations have generated an estimated £30m in economic impact for the city for one year.

As we (hopefully) learn to live safely with the restrictions of Covid-19 and look to a brighter future, our cultural scene in Liverpool continues to be at the heart of our pro-active regeneration and forward momentum.

The pandemic has sharpened our focus and there is increasing recognition around the importance of arts and culture in the lives of people, our communities, and places. Arts Council England have published a 10-year strategic framework entitled “Great Art and Culture for Everyone” which highlights the role art and culture play in the development of talent and innovation, improving our health and wellbeing and in being able to deliver essential services.

Working with our communities, our cultural organisations, our people, we united throughout the pandemic to tackle Covid-19 barriers to our mental and physical health, to the threats to our livelihoods and the long-term consequences of a global pandemic. Together, we embraced that which united us, our arts and culture, our can-do attitude, and our innovative forward-thinking ways to find solutions, to embrace change and to show the world how a vibrant, cultural scene can help unite us in regeneration, recovery, and reward.

Now, as we have always done in Liverpool, standing at the forefront of change, it’s time to once again, embrace the view of our iconic Liver Birds and, as we have always, export this success around the world. Just as Bertie watches over our city’s thriving cultural scene, Bella looks out across the Mersey to tell the world, this, this is how we recover, with our cultural identity at the heart of all we do.

So I invite you to join us, join the Culture Club, where the colours are purple, red and blue, not necessarily gold and green. Where we are a city united, in the colours of our culture club — a club open to all members regardless of race, colour, creed, gender or sexuality. We are a club which embraces our arts and cultural scene, what made us who we are, the views out onto our historic streets to the dreams we have of tomorrow.

Come on – if you like a lot of culture, won’t you join our club?

Cllr Harry Doyle, Assistant Mayor of Liverpool and Cabinet Member for Culture & Visitor Economy

Liverpool Waterfront