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Can Liverpool’s Arts And Culture Businesses Thrive Post-2008?

January 18, 2009

The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) represents all sectors of business in the city – including those who work in arts and culture. A current Chamber concern is therefore to maintain and promote the gains made during the city’s 2008 European Capital of Culture Year by Liverpool’s creative, arts and culture sectors. To promote this agenda, the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Industry has an LCCI Members’ Council has an Arts and Culture Committee, of which I am the founding chair.

The recent momentum remains fragile, and for continued success it is essential that arts and ‘non-arts’ businesses across the city develop the synergies to be gained by working together in 2009 and beyond. With this in mind, the LCCI Arts and Culture Committee seeks to help maintain the profile and business health of Liverpool’s creative sector; hence the following article, a version of which has just been published in the Liverpool Chamber magazine:

We sometimes forget that arts and culture, as much as any other formal activity, is Business. Artistic enterprise brightens our lives and captures our imaginations, and it’s done by people, often highly trained, who earn their living in that way.

It’s therefore important that Liverpool’s Capital of Culture Year 2008 momentum is maintained into 2009. Liverpool needs the arts to flourish because they enhance both our communities and our economy.

Momentum unsecure?
Some of Liverpool’s arts practitioners fear however that the momentum of 2008 is not yet secured. The Liverpool Culture Company expects the ’09 funding round to be ‘highly competitive’; and everyone anticipates that sponsorship will be difficult to come by in the current financial situation.

So it’s unsurprising that Liverpool’s arts practitioners are currently nervous, some of them already publicly predicting ’09 will be a tough call.

New but vulnerable synergies
Of course this scenario applies to other businesses as well; but the arts have developed new synergies and added value during 2008 which, once lost, it would be extraordinarily difficult to reinvent. The ‘08 cultural gains remain vulnerable, and need more time to embed if they are to bring maximum benefit.

This isn’t simply an academic concern. Liverpool’s established businesses are beginning to wake up to how they can work to mutual advantage with arts providers.

Live music brings in more customers; visual arts encourage customers to linger; drama can be an excellent training tool…. and it also all helps the economy to tick over because practitioners are earning and spending money locally.

A role for all Liverpool businesses
The LCCI Arts and Culture Committee is seeking to encourage this beneficial synergy, but there’s a role here too for companies across the city. We all need to say how important the ’08 cultural legacy is; and we need to think how to conduct real business with arts enterprises.

Hilary Burrage
Chair [* retired June 2008], LCCI Arts and Culture Committee

A version of this article was first published in the January / February 2009 edition (Issue 19) of “Liverpool Chamber”, the magazine of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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