Skip to content

HOPES Millennium Commission Presentation (London, 22 September 2000)

November 1, 2005

HOPES: The Hope Street Association (Liverpool) was honoured by being invited in September 2000 to give the ‘community festival’ perspective at a national meeting in London attended by the Secretary of State for Culture, Chris Smith M.P., the Millennium Commissioners, their special guests and members of the national press and other media.

This is the paper written and presented on that occasion by HOPES’ founding hon. Chair, Hilary Burrage

HOPES: The Hope Street Association
Presentation to the Secretary of State for Culture, the Rt Hon Chris Smith MP, and the Millennium Commission
London, 22 September 2000

Maintaining the Momentum of Change: Making connections – building communities

The Liverpool Hope Street Millennium Public Arts Route

HOPES: The Hope Street Association came into being in 1994/5 as a result of the on-going campaign to support Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse Theatres and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, all of which were then under serious threat of financial calamity. Since 1991/2 The Campaign to Promote the Arts on Merseyside (CAMPAM – now amalgamated with HOPES) had proclaimed of these vital elements of Liverpool’s cultural life that ‘once lost, we will not get them back’.

The Hope Street Quarter is an area at the downtown edge of Liverpool City Centre which covers approximately a square kilometre. It is probably unique in the density of civic resources it offers, with an amazing number of cultural and educational institutions lined along and on either side of Hope Street itself. Almost all of these institutions are members or partners of HOPES, including both Cathedrals and both Universities, several colleges and training centres in the area, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Hall, and the Everyman and Unity Theatres. Other HOPES members importantly include local traders, professional businesses, residents and private individuals.

From the very beginning, HOPES had a number of stated aims:

– to establish the area around Hope Street as a formal Quarter, thereby gaining for it and its constituent parts serious recognition as a springboard for appropriate, managed development;

– to establish formal liaison with decision-makers in the City of Liverpool in order to promote and develop the many aspects of Hope Street Quarter which put together would offer a striking synergy for renaissance of the area and the city as a whole;

– to establish a special identity as a not-for-profit body with links with national and other local bodies involved in regeneration and social entrepreneurship;

– to gain Millennium Commission recognition and support, especially for celebratory activities which brought together members of the local community and a wide range of artists and other professionals in the area.

It can be said in general terms that the year 2000 has seen a significant measure of success in all four of these objectives, and not least, in the first three cases, because of the impetus which Festival support from the Millennium Commission has provided.

Moving towards the Hope Street Millennium Festival
Hope Street’s Festival has been focused, although not exclusively, on the Midsummer period. We began earlier in the year with some ‘taster’ small concerts and children’s workshops in local community venues, and we will continue with these, and with other educational and arts projects, until the end of the year, and beyond.

But the main focus has been Midsummer, following from a practice of running Midsummer Festivals which began in 1977, with the celebration of HM Queen’s Silver Jubilee and a pageant on Hope Street arising from Malcolm Arnold’s work, The Valley and the Hill. On that first occasion some 17,000 school children were involved, but from this grew a number of other Hope Street Midsummer Festivals which might be compared with, say, early Three Choirs Festivals in terms of content and delivery.

By the mid-1980s, however, this series of festivals had come to an end, and the first, tentative, festival of the current series was organised by the Hope Street Association in 1996. This first, modest venture was over one weekend only, but, encouraged by the interest it engendered, we have since developed annual programmes over longer periods, with the Millennium Midsummer Festival extending over the entire month of June.

Preparations for the Hope Street Millennium Festival have their roots in the very first decisions made by HOPES. We agreed at a well-attended public meeting to make an application to the Millennium Commission for a significant capital award to support the physical regeneration of the Hope Street Quarter – a bid, put together entirely on a volunteer / pro-bono basis, which was unsuccessful but which also drew considerable attention to the Quarter at a time when we were also seeking (ultimately successfully) to have the Quarter so designated by the city authorities.

Several early rejections of economic development and arts-related bids, however, left us if anything more determined to succeed in a significant bid which would highlight the unique and exciting features of our Quarter. And so further work and public consultation led to the successful Millennium Festival Award which has now been delivered and employed with very real effect.

Facing the challenges
The Hope Street Association has however been seriously challenged in delivering such a festival. HOPES has almost no direct income (other than modest membership fees and occasional individual donations); but it does receive significant in-kind support from many sources, the most sustained of which has been provision of an office and facilities by the Liverpool Business School and, latterly, by the Liverpool Architecture and Design Trust.

This generous support is matched by ‘staff’ who are young graduates on management-training placements from our Universities (mostly the Language Learning Centre of the University of Liverpool). These young people are mentored and supervised by HOPES’s Chair, a semi-retired lecturer who has hands-on involvement in the day-to-day running of the organisation. Without the enthusiasm and energy of HOPES’s ‘staff’ trainees the close community links and many activities of the Association and its Festival would not be possible – young people bring their own very valuable momentum to events!

Participating in the Hope Street Millennium Festival
A key aim of HOPES’ approach to the Millennium Festival has been community participation at every level. Our objective has been to deliver artistic and educational activities using highly-skilled professionals working with local people who have a close knowledge of the community – thereby, we hope, breaking down possible psychological and other barriers to collaboration in the renaissance of the Hope Street Quarter and helping where we can to bring about also the longed-for renaissance of Liverpool.

Over many months the following outline programme for the Hope Street Millennium Festival developed and has now been delivered:

Involvement of Merseyside schools in the Festival, especially through
– an extended Banners project led by an Egyptian teacher, Nivien Mahmoud, who has come with her family to Liverpool whilst her husband studies at the University

– invitations to schools to involve their students in the now-established annual Hotfoot on Hope Street Midsummer concert at Philharmonic Hall

– poetry and arts / science ‘creativity’ projects led by HOPES graduate trainee Development Officer, Jo Doyle, with volunteer expert advice and support

Involvement of top-level artists and educationalists such as players from the Royal Liverpool Orchestra in a number of activities such as
– the Gala Midsummer Hotfoot on Hope Street concert at Philharmonic Hall, in which talented young amateur instrumentalists and singers performed music ranging from Peter and the Wolf to Beatles arrangements alongside players RLPO professionals

– informal chamber concerts by Live-A-Music, a group of RLPO players, at venues like St Bride’s Church, Toxteth (at the invitation of the Vicar) and Liverpool Town Hall (at the invitation, on BBC Music Live Day, of the Lord Mayor)

– music workshops for children (and their parents) run alongside these concerts by another Live-A-Music / RLPO player, Richard Gordon-Smith (also HOPES’ Composer-in-Residence) at community venues such as St Bride’s and The Blackie

– an emphasis on music by ‘minority’ composers and performers, eg: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (researched by Live-A-Music’s Director, Martin Anthony (Tony) Burrage) and the Saurang Orchestra, initiated by Surinder Sandhu, which brings together professional players from the Indian, Western and Jazz traditions – and which this time included performance of the international Ode to Joy, supported by Liverpool City Council Arts Unit and David Ellwand of Summer Music

– the creation overall of 60+ engagements in the city for professional performers, as well as encouragement for new composers via a competition offering opportunities for winning entries to be performed by a professional group of musicians

Involvement of the wider local and Merseyside community through
– widespread media coverage, local leafleting / newsletters, consultation meetings etc

– a longer-term commitment to establish a Hope Street Millennium Public Arts Route celebrating the activities of all who have been involved in our Millennium Festival
– maintaining contacts in local communities through friends and colleagues made whilst HOPES provided administrative support for the 1998 Liverpool Windrush activities (at the initial suggestion of Jeffrey Morris of BBC Television)

– development of an on-going website (which now averages 25 ‘hits’ per day)

– a dazzling pre-Launch performance at the Metropolitan (RC) Cathedral by Sicilian flag-throwers, arranged by Mrs Nunzia Bertali, Italian consul for Merseyside

– engagement of local people to provide voluntary advice and assistance in the development, marketing and promotion of all the Festival activities, through an informal network of Festival Committee members and helpers – including Arthur Bowling, a Millennium Fellow who was introduced to HOPES by the Commission

– concerts and free workshops over several months which had marketing campaigns targeted particularly at local communities around Hope Street, for which, in addition to wider promotional support from the RLPS, we delivered leaflets door-to-door

– producing and displaying the HOPES Banners all along Hope Street for the Midsummer weekend, in a collaboration with schools, Liverpool University Student Guild and their Organiser Emily Coombes, the Youth Service, the Probation Service (who provided community service probationers to actually mount the banners) – and, crucially, the owners of all the stretches of iron railing along the street

– a ‘Family Fun Day’ on Sunday 18 June, when we collaborated with the Dingle SALE (Southern Area Local Enterprise), the Police, Liverpool John Moores University and other authorities to close a stretch of Hope Street and offer free family entertainment (Brownies and local dance groups, young popular musicians, balloons, craft and activity stalls in the John Moores University car park on the corner of Hope Street, etc.) which many people enjoyed – in brilliant sunshine!

Involvement of HOPES members, regeneration professionals and other interested practitioners, students and citizens through
– displays, newspaper articles and radio / TV interviews about the Festival and regeneration of the Quarter

– a formal Festival Launch when Angela Heslop, Arts Editor of Radio Merseyside, gave the Annual HOPES State of the Arts on Merseyside address

– displays, newspaper articles and radio / TV interviews about the Festival etc

– a HOPES Millennium Gala Dinner, attended by Guests of Honour The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Mrs Louise Ellman MP for Liverpool Riverside, Councillor Mike Storey as Leader of Liverpool City Council, and David Scougall, a Director of the British Urban Regeneration Association, as speaker, with many other significant figures in Liverpool’s regeneration alongside other members and supporters of HOPES

– liaison with bodies such as the Musicians’ Union and others, in an informal network

– a National Conference, Art at the Heart: The Role of Established Cultural Quarters in City Renaissance, which had as Keynote Speaker Chris Brown of the Urban Task Force, as well as a wide range of other development practitioners and academics

– production after this conference of a publication, The Hope Street Papers, which contains professional presentations from actual speakers and others, as well as responses from members of the public who attended the conference as participants

HOPES’ current position
Whilst HOPES remains an organisation dependent almost entirely on volunteer activity and support, with many professionals and members of the community giving their services freely, our position has shifted very positively during our Millennium Festival year.

Significant factors in this change include
– strengthening of community links, eg, through collaboration with Dingle SALE, the St Bride’s (Canning / Toxteth) community and the University of Liverpool Students’ Guild community volunteers

– greater involvement with the Universities and Colleges (eg: invitations to work with fifth year Architecture students at Liverpool and LJMU, to perform a community chamber concert at Liverpool Art School, to collaborate with the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Institute for Performing Art in a science theatre proposal, and to collaborate with music students at Liverpool Hope University College)

– agreement from the Charity Commission that HOPES can register in the near future as an arts, educational and conservation etc charity, expressly to benefit the City of Liverpool and the local community

– much strengthened links with the British Urban Regeneration Association, the North-West Regional Development Agency, the NW Arts Board, the Liverpool Architecture and Design Trust , Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Local Agenda 21, Aurora, the Musicians’ Union and other significant organisations

– establishing working contact with the London-based School for Social Entrepreneurs, especially since this year our graduate trainee Development Officer, Jo Doyle, has at HOPES’ initial suggestion been studying there; she is currently developing a HOPES programme which will bring together professional musicians (eg: from the RLPO / Live-A-Music) and community-based practitioners to engage young popular musicians in a New Deal scheme addressing social exclusion

– development of a formal relationship with the City of Liverpool’s Youth (Life Long Learning) Service, which has agreed to offer financial support for Jo Doyle’s project

– making professional musical connections with the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Society (based in Croydon, where he lived) and members of the Saurang Orchestra (who visit Liverpool to play in it from India and the United States) – so providing proof positive that ‘classical’ music is not the preserve simply of a certain type of person

– increasingly strong connections with the innovative public-private partnership city-centre development agency, Liverpool Vision, and with the City of Liverpool’s new Regeneration Directorate (who very helpfully introduced us to the Youth Service)

– establishing as a priority consideration of mechanisms for graduate retention in Liverpool, beyond simply the post-graduate management training phase

– achieving the prime objective of the Association, which is to establish the need for acknowledgement and renaissance of the Hope Street Quarter – this was recently accomplished after submissions to and high-level discussions with the City’s Unitary Development Plan office and then with the new City Centre Development Company, Liverpool Vision, which in July revised its strategy to include Hope Street Quarter as a primary location for attention, having initially not done so at all

The advantage of Millennium Funding
For all these developments the advantage of Festival funding from the Millennium Commission has been enormous. It allowed us to plan a Festival in confidence, knowing that we could pay at least essential bills; and, most importantly, it gave us credibility and a new and higher profile. That’s worth more than almost anything else.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: