Winter Lights 2019 credit Nunzio Prenna

BLOG: ‘Turning the light back on after a dark year’

Liverpool’s Director of Culture, Claire McColgan MBE, writes about the city’s role in a research project to bring large scale events back safely.

It’s been a year since, one-by-one, we made the heartbreaking decision to postpone our cultural events.

We all entered an uncertain world where the usual rules were thrown out, our normal way of being and acting had to change and we had to find new ways of continuing with life.

At the council, over Zoom calls, we worked to support our cultural partners so they in turn could honour contracts with freelancers.

Over the summer, we developed Without Walls, changing our city into a stage for outdoor programming.

In November, Liverpool became the pilot for mass testing and, like the audience for events, the people of the city embraced it.

Liverpool Without Walls last summer created additional outdoor space for hospitality businesses

One of the reasons was to help get our lives back.

To hug each other.

To see our families.

And to stand next to someone at an event to have a conversation about something else, something that had been created by artists, sports people, DJs.

Something live – that if you reached out you could touch.

And so to today.

We have been working behind the scenes with the Government since November to develop a framework to bring events back.

Not just for all the reasons above, but also because 48 per cent of our business rates come from leisure, so it has been a priority in maintaining essential council services.

Like everything with Covid-19, this is not easy and nothing is in a straight line, but actually nothing in our world is.

The River of Light Trail begins later this month

In March, we are slowly starting to turn up the dial in a Covid safe way by welcoming the River of Light Trail – a waterfront installation which will literally turn the light back on after a dark year. It will be followed by the Biennial.

Then, alongside our brilliant colleagues at the University of Liverpool and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport we will trial a series of carefully controlled events in April.

We will share our knowledge quickly, so that other areas across the country will benefit from our learning.

Watch this space – and thanks to those producers, artists, civil servants and partners who have put their trust in us to deliver.