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Culture in cities
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Developing a Liverpool City of Music Strategy

BOP was asked to develop a Liverpool City of Music strategy by Culture Liverpool and the City Council.

Culture in cities

Last week, we attended the Impacts 18 conference. This two-day event presented the results of a decade-long study into the impact of cultural interventions upon Liverpool.


Liverpool’s commitment to culture is deep. It is a decade since Liverpool was European Capital of Culture, two decades since Liverpool Biennial began, and three decades since Tate Liverpool opened. From our evaluation of Liverpool Biennial to our development of a strategy to make the most of Liverpool’s UNESCO City of Music status, we are proud to be part of this journey.


Liverpool’s achievements are substantial. Dr Beatriz Garcia, Director at the Institute of Cultural Capital, presented research indicating that 90% of Liverpool residents agree that “over the last decade, Liverpool has become a more creative city”.


Experienced voices debated how culture could do more to deliver upon the ambitions of cities.


Our takeaways included:


  • Cities should have the courage to challenge negative perceptions, whether these are held by residents or external to the city. “Capital of Culture, you are having a laugh,” opposition fans used to chant at Everton and Liverpool matches. The city has, however, as Beatriz’s research shows, succeeded in shifting perceptions away from social problems and towards cultural vibrancy

  • This transformation has been assisted by Liverpool’s architectural heritage. Five buildings on the Albert Dock comprise the largest single collection of Grade I listed buildings anywhere in England. “Everywhere has a wonderful history of some kind or another”, Jude Kelly told the conference. Re-connecting with this heritage, including its more difficult parts, helps to sustain contemporary senses of place

  • Partnerships are important. Between artists and technologists (we heard about a dress made of graphene featuring at the Great Exhibition of the North – showcasing northern innovation in fashion and manufacture), between cultural organisations and sports clubs (we learnt about football-themed events, as part of Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture, attracting new audiences), and between a myriad of partners within successful creative placemaking (as Ann Markusen described in an illuminating presentation)

  • While Brexit was described as the conference’s elephant in the room, Maria Balshaw, noting that Liverpool is twinned with Shanghai, insisted that cultural exchange will be vital to the UK’s future, irrespective of our political arrangements. As austerity continues in the UK, another elephant, though less commented upon at the conference, is how the culture of our cities will be financed. We look forward to the Cultural Cities Enquiry proposing new solutions to this.

How cities can make the most of culture

Headlines from Impacts 18

Oct 23, 2018

Green Cities helping climate change through culture and sustainability

Nov 4, 2021

How are major cities around the world responding to climate change through cultural policies and programmes?

The Green World Cities of Tomorrow: Culture and Sustainability

Paul Owens

Culture and the Climate Emergency

Apr 22, 2021

5 Priorities for World Cities in the post-covid recovery period

Culture and the Climate Emergency

Paul Owens

Culture and the Recovery: Levelling Up Culture?

Dec 4, 2020

Culture can play an important role in recovery and renewal across the UK, if the right local decision-making is put in place

Culture and the Recovery: Levelling Up Culture?

Callum Lee

Central London’s celebrated

Sep 23, 2020

This focused, coordinated set of measures can not only rescue the sector, but position it to lead the recovery

Central London’s celebrated cultural offer is in peril

Jonathan Todd

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #3

Aug 21, 2020

Three big questions as applications close for Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #3

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #2

Jul 30, 2020

The UK’s £1.57 billion recovery package: priorities for a New Deal

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #2

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Cities, Culture and the 3 ‘P’s: powers, partnerships, place

Jul 20, 2020

Cities are using their unique capabilities to lead recovery and renewal

COVID-19: Cities, Culture and the 3 ‘P’s: powers, partnerships, place

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #1

Jul 7, 2020

Investing in recovery, planning for transformation

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #1

Paul Owens

COVID-19 is a triple blow to culture and the creative industries

Jun 30, 2020

Recovery and renewal will depend on how we address the three dimensions of the crisis

COVID-19 is a triple blow to culture and the creative industries

Paul Owens

Take planning and collaboration to whole a new level.

Jun 3, 2020

In the face of radical uncertainty leaders and policy-makers will have to take planning and collaboration to whole a new level

‘Plans are useless, planning is essential’

Paul Owens

Relief, Recovery and Renewal

May 13, 2020

Nobody knows what will happen next, but we have a good idea of the three necessary steps out of the crisis

Relief, Recovery and Renewal: navigating our way to a new kind of future

Paul Owens

The Golden Thread in the 2020s

Dec 20, 2019

A cause for optimism

Weaving the Golden Thread into the 2020s

Paul Owens

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By BOP Consulting

Jonathan Todd

Chief Economist

Jonathan is an economist with over a decade’s experience in impact assessment and evaluation, and high-level policy experience, particularly within the cultural and creative sectors.

Jonathan Todd - Chief Economist | BOP Consulting

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Jonathan Todd

Jonathan Todd

Chief Economist