Culture cornucopia!

It’s a culture-fest in Liverpool this September.

To coincide with the opening weekend of the hugely popular Biennial festival, venues across the city centre are putting on events showcasing Liverpool’s impressive cultural credentials.

With hundreds of thousands of people expected to be attracted to the Biennial following its launch on Saturday 15 September, the city’s theatres, museums, galleries and music venues have scheduled programmes perfect for culture-lovers from across the globe.

Highlights include:
• Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatres open their new autumn winter season on Friday 14 September with the first preview of Headlong Associate Director Robert Icke’s new production of The Alchemist. Cast includes Nicolas Tennant, Ian Bartholomew and Simon Coates as well as Liverpool Everyman alumni Kevin Harvey and John McGrellis. Their productions continue to garner national and international acclaim as the 2009 Everyman production of Jonathan Pryce in The Caretaker ended an international tour in New York earlier this year, while this weekend alone the 2010 Playhouse production of Antony and Cleopatra with Kim Cattrall opens at Chichester Festival Theatre, and their 2011 co-production of The Ladykillers starts its UK tour in Plymouth.

• Tate Liverpool will unveil their major new commission Sky Arts Ignition Series: Doug Aitken – The Source on 15 September. The work is US artist Doug Aitken’s first public installation in the UK, and will be housed in a spectacular pavilion on the Albert Dock, designed in collaboration with British architect David Adjaye OBE. Aitken’s work will explore the source of creativity with a number of high profile creative individuals including actress Tilda Swinton and musicians Beck and Jack White. During the day, visitors can enter the pavilion to see the work; at night, the work will be projected outwards from the structure. Tate Liverpool will also be presenting Thresholds from 15 September, as part of The Unexpected Guest. Thresholds is a Tate Collection display exploring British identity, migration and the global effects of regional conflicts, featuring artists such as Gilbert & George, Mark Wallinger and Martin Parr. On Friday 14 September, Tate Liverpool will host the conference Art, Criticism and the Forces of Globalisation in collaboration with Winchester School of Art and the University of Rennes, considering the issues raised by Thresholds

• Unity Theatre is Liverpool’s small-scale producing and touring venue promoting bold, cutting-edge work from the national and international circuit. September sees a range of new work-in-development shows debut alongside a local company’s world premiere production of Love Me Do, (Thursday 13 – Saturday 15 Sep) a drama examining the life of Brian Epstein – the legendary manager behind The Beatles, Cilla Black and Gerry and The Pacemakers.

• September 15 sees the opening of FACT’s Biennial exhibitions, featuring new commissions from Jemima Wyman, Pedro Reyes, and filmmakers Anja Kirschner and David Panos, plus the UK’s first retrospective collection by Lebanese filmmaker and photographer Akram Zaatari. Look out for late night openings, with film screenings, talks and more, every Wednesday during the Biennial.

• The John Moores Painting Prize (15 September to 6 January) at the Walker Art Gallery is the UK’s biggest painting competition and a major part of the Liverpool Biennial. The gallery also has two exciting installations as part of the Biennial. Madreperlage (2003), a major piece by Turner Prize nominated artist, Enrico David, will be on display, in his first solo presentation in England, outside London. And, Patrick Murphy’s Belonging will see around 200 brightly coloured pigeons transform the exterior of the gallery.

• Hope Street Feast returns for its 7th year on 16 September. Attracting around 30,000 visitors, the open-air festival combines food, drink, music and theatre to create the atmosphere of an urban village fete. Liverpool Philharmonic are once again joining in the festivities with a family friendly open day which gives people the chance to explore all the venue has to offer. This includes free performances in the Auditorium by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vasily Petrenko, the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, West Everton Super Strings, the Irish Sea Sessions and Rhos Orpheus Male Choir. Liverpool Philharmonic’s outdoor stage After 8 will also see artists performing, and a second stage will feature the best of the city’s acoustic talent.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “There’s always fantastic cultural activities taking place in Liverpool, but from September residents and visitors really will be spoilt for choice as so many venues launch new programmes.

“The Biennial attracts art lovers from across the world, and this is the perfect opportunity for us to shout about the amazing events taking place in the city, and showcase just why Liverpool is renowned for its cultural offer.

“Art always provokes discussion and debate and it’s a measure of the cultural significance of our city that we can have a packed cultural schedule which is hugely respected by artists, critics and the public.

“From theatre, to exhibitions, music and festivals, there really is something for everyone and this inclusivity is something we pride ourselves on in Liverpool.

“And as well as opening up people to new experiences, it’s important not to forget that these events hugely benefit the local economy, as people come into the city and spend money in our unbeatable shops, bars, restaurants and hotels,”

Duncan Frazer, Commercial and Marketing Director of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, which encompasses Tourist Board VisitLiverpool, added: “Liverpool City Region’s cultural offer plays a huge role in the Visitor Economy and continues to be a driving force in attracting visitors to the destination.

“We are very fortunate to have more museums and galleries than any other City Region outside of London. High-profile events – such as the Liverpool Biennial – play a vital role in providing Liverpool with a world-class events programme and an international stage on which to promote the destination, therefore keeping it in the forefront of people’s minds when planning a trip.”

Liverpool Biennial 2012 takes place from 15 September to 25 November and for ten weeks every two years it commissions the most exciting artists from around the world, attracting over 600,000 visitors in 2010 and contributing £27m to Liverpool’s economy.

Liverpool Biennial is the UK Biennial of Contemporary Art, and is the largest international contemporary art festival in the UK. This year’s theme is The Unexpected Guest.

Participating organisations and venues include The Cunard Building, The Bluecoat, Everton Park, FACT, Liverpool ONE, Metal, The Monro, Open Eye Gallery, Tate Liverpool, Mitchell’s Bakery, LJMU Copperas Building (Lime Street), the Walker Art Gallery, Victoria Gallery and Museum and The Royal Standard. For further information please visit www.biennial.com

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