Whether you’re 0 or 100, there’s simply no way you could have avoided Eurovision, thanks to Culture Liverpool’s learning and participation programme. Alicia Smith, Arts and Participation Manager for Culture Liverpool explains...
From volunteers and community engagement, right through to education activities, an unrivalled culture festival and an iconic fan village … this has been a Eurovision like no other.
Alongside our 14-day EuroFestival of 24 commissions – 19 of which were in partnership with Ukraine – we have commissioned over 40 EuroLearn projects and over 60 EuroStreet projects, taking over Liverpool City Region.
It’s the first time a host city has offered an engagement programme of this scale and it’s been an integral part of our successful bid to host the song contest on behalf of Ukraine. Liverpool has grabbed this opportunity with both hands and thanks to our incredibly special relationship with Ukraine, we programmed activities no host city has ever done before.
We wanted to break down barriers and make Eurovision accessible to all. If you couldn’t come to Eurovision, we wanted to bring Eurovision to you.
For months, artists, musicians, poets and writers have been working hard to bring Eurovision to our classrooms and streets but we’ve also taken over care homes, hospitals, parks, churches, village halls and refuges.
Our specially curated resource pack covers visual arts and the Ukraine tradition of egg painting called Pysanka. Our music interactive pack explores the history of Eurovision and the importance of this global music event for our city. And our storytelling resource focuses on the themes of belonging, welcome, hope, loneliness and the voice of the child using traditional folk tales and fairy tales as inspiration and to engage.
We’ve also worked in partnership with the City of Liverpool College to offer a series of career events aimed at school pupils interested in careers in the visitor economy sector, the creative and digital sector, or a ‘backstage’ profession such as theatrical make-up, costume and set design or lighting and sound
We’ve seen giant Pysanka eggs at Liverpool ONE, a series of solidarity disco banquets and an interactive chess event, which included a live link between Ukraine and Liverpool – demonstrating how a popular game can bring people and nations together.
As a UNESCO City of Music, we have fully embraced the slogan United by Music, a theme interwoven throughout our programme. You may already have seen Liverpool Signing Choir, EuroBrass and 100 Voices popping up at locations around the city including Strawberry Field and our very own Eurovision Village.
This programme has been specially curated to give everyone an opportunity to come together and shine on the stage that is Liverpool.
The vision has been made possible thanks to support from The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, The Ukrainian Institute, The National Lottery, Spirit of 2012, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, the British Council, Liverpool BID and Liverpool One. And of course, the vast array of amazing creatives and artists located in the city, across the UK, in Ukraine and across the world, as well as my incredible team of producers.
Our ambition was to programme attention-grabbing, impactful city region-wide activity which made everyone feel part of this unique Eurovision experience but the reaction has exceeded all our expectations.
The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 may be over but there’s still plenty to come, including the Liverpool European Festival, a celebration of dance, films and history in June, and Brook Community Training in Runcorn is continuing to offer hairdressing and nail art classes for young people inspired by Eurovision styles through the decades on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout May and June.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many people from all over the world in the last week, from die-hard Eurovision fans to newbies dipping their toe in the Eurovision waters. The word on the street is that this is not only the biggest Eurovision takeover a host city has ever staged but also the best. Even Radio 2 presenter Scott Mills, who has covered 12 Eurovisions said it, so it must be true.