Cllr Harry Doyle, cabinet member for culture and the visitor economy
4 min read
It’s all coming together…. with a little help from our friends
Planning for next year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool is well under way with everything from a cultural programme, fan zones, a EuroClub and community and school engagement initiatives starting to take shape behind the scenes. Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy Councillor Harry Doyle looks at the financial side of the competition and how an event of this scale is funded.
Since we threw our hat into the Eurovision ring back in June, the international spotlight has well and truly been on the city of Liverpool – with that spotlight becoming more of a floodlight since we found out in October that we will have the honour of hosting the event next year on behalf of Ukraine.
Among the overall chatter about venues, cultural programmes, a Eurovision village, tickets, potential presenters, and speculation on who the 2023 UK entry may be following Sam Ryder’s stunning performance in 2022, there is understandably interest relating to what it’s going to cost Liverpool to bring this iconic event to the city.
Unsurprisingly, given the nature of the event and the different partners involved, it’s a complicated process.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that the main Eurovision shows – the shows you will see on the TV in May – will be brought to audiences by the exceptional production teams at the BBC working alongside the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The production of the show is not the responsibility of the host city.
The Eurovision Song Contest is a co-production between around 40 public broadcasters from all over Europe, who contribute to the production budget, along with the BBC, national and international sponsors, revenues from ticket sales and support from the host city.
As with any event of this scale, there will be fan zones, safety and security, city dressing, the cultural festival, school and community programmes, the opening ceremony and all the other ways Eurovision will take over Liverpool.
To make it all happen, our competitive, and ultimately successful, bid involved a mixture of direct cash investment and in-kind contributions. Liverpool City Council has contributed £2 million, Liverpool City Region has contributed another £2 million and the remainder of the non-TV costs are being covered by a mixture of central government funding, commercial partners and some very generous local business and organisations who see the value of this event and are keen to support us hosting Eurovision on behalf of a country that is not able to.
In addition to the direct financial contribution, because of the unique way Liverpool is set up to deliver culture and events, we were also able to offer space across the city that it owns and runs, plus the time of our culture team and other staff members.
Before we officially submitted our bid to host Eurovision, we spent a lot of time looking at the financial implications it could have, working with colleagues across the authority and weighing up the pros and cons of being the host city. To make an investment decision like this in the current financial climate is never easy, but we had to look at the bigger picture and weigh up the return.
Put simply, using money that had already been earmarked for culture or part of our Covid-19 recovery is a shrewd investment. The money which will come back into the city as a result of our £2 million investment will be a huge economic driver for those who have been most affected by the pandemic and are key to our economic prosperity.
We predict that Eurovision will be directly worth around £25 million for the regional economy when it takes over the city next May. Looking at the impact on previous host cities, it could also increase tourism to the city by up to 5 per cent a year – which equates to over £250 million extra revenue by 2026 – and we’re already seeing investment coming into the region for skills and training, developing opportunities for young people and the creation of new jobs. All this before the impact of 160million viewers has on the reputation of a city and its people.
As someone whose childhood memories include our amazing Capital of Culture year, with cultural activity happening across the city in all our communities, I absolutely recognise the power of major events in our economic and emotional regeneration. Capital of Culture 2008 happened as the world crashed financially but the prize absolutely shielded the city from the worse effects. All eyes were on us and speak to anyone who remembers 2008 and they will tell you that year was the start of Liverpool’s recovery.
And just as in 2008, we’re determined Eurovision has a lasting legacy.
We’re already working with colleagues from across central government, the private sector and partners in Ukraine to understand how we can ensure the event in May is the start of something big, not the end.
This might be around partnerships, inward investment, increased visibility or new networks and opportunities which these relationships create. The eyes of the world will be on Liverpool and I know we will present ourselves and our Ukrainian friends as a progressive, exciting and ambitious city that does the right thing.
Eurovision is only the beginning of generational change for our city, and and it’s thanks to the private sector, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, National Lottery partners and the BBC which together will make this an unforgettable and unparalleled event in the city of Liverpool and on behalf of Ukraine.