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Tuesday, 30 September 2008


I am in a very rainy Liverpool on a Culture and Education visit to the city, the 2008 European Capital of Culture. Liverpool is regaining its 1960s spirit. Its cultural life is vibrant, innovative, sometimes reaching exceptional heights. It has been very good to see that Britain has produced such a champion Capital of Culture.

We have been subjected to a hectic schedule, starting yesterday with presentations from key players in the Liverpool arts scene, including Phil Redmond, creator of “Brookside”, “Hollyoaks” and “Grange Hill” who has taken on the daunting task of Deputy Chair and Creative Director of the European Capital of Culture. More presentations followed today from community arts organisations, theatres and museums, all extremely enthusiastic about what they do.

Two moving things stand out for me about the various visits we made today to community arts and museums/art galleries. Anthony Gormley’s work “Another Place” on Crosby Beach is a massive installation of 100 cast iron figures on the sands. It is just amazing. The Tate Liverpool is a must for any visitor. From the Rodin’s “The Kiss” in the entrance foyer to Picasso’s “Weeping Woman”, the gallery is an absolute delight, boasting works by Gwen John, Pierre Bonnard, Edgar Degas and Rene Magritte, not to mention an entire room devoted to Andy Warhol.

The theme of our visit has been the way art can encourage urban regeneration. Liverpool has certainly been transformed. The old docks area no boasts refurbished warehouses used for shops and flats, not to mention Tate Liverpool itself.

A big thank you to all those who organised the trip. It has, incidentally, been good for my MEP colleagues to see a UK success story. We leave tomorrow, so I hope to bring you another Capital of Culture blog tomorrow.

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