Private sector 'must help Liverpool's culture legacy'

Liverpool waterfront
Image caption Liverpool City Council wanted to create a lasting legacy from Capital of Culture

Businesses must invest more in arts events in Liverpool for the legacy of the Capital of Culture year to continue, a senior councillor has said.

The city was European Capital of Culture in 2008, hosting 7,000 events, including Sir Paul McCartney's concert.

Liverpool City Council invested £30m in cultural events, which generated £800m for the regional economy.

Councillor Warren Bradley said the private sector had benefited from the council investment.

Mr Bradley led the city council during the Capital of Culture year and is now leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group.

'Age of austerity'

In 2008, he stressed the importance of ensuring Capital of Culture had a legacy in the city.

However, he has said it would not be sustainable for the council to continue to invest in the arts at the level it had in recent years.

"In an age of austerity, when we are seeing lots of cuts in public sector funds, I think it is time for the private sector who have done particularly well in the last few years to step up and offer more sponsorship to back fill public sector funding that has been cut," he said.

Image caption Millions visited Liverpool to enjoy the public events during 2008, including the giant spider La Princesse

Liverpool City Council has invested more than £16m in arts and culture since 2008.

Mr Bradley said all areas were being looked at for cuts, and "no stone is going to be left unturned".

A city council spokeswoman said she could not confirm cuts to the arts and culture ahead of the budget, which is due to be announced next month.

However, the authority has previously said it needs to cut £141m before 2013.

Mr Bradley said: "Hopefully more people will become engaged, especially the private sector. People who made lots of money out of the success of '08.

"The smallest to the largest companies can all play their part. Obviously we would expect more from the big boys - if they gave £1m and the corner shop gives £1 it all goes to the right cause."

He said he believed smaller cultural events would be most affected. "It is important we keep the smaller events that are unique to Liverpool," he said.

'People empowered'

Councillor Wendy Simon, the council's cabinet member for culture and tourism, said: "The sense of coming together as a city, which came about through the ability to participate in and contribute to the year, was in many respects the [Capital of Culture] year's most palpable success story.

"It is one which the city needs to keep hold of, both to overcome the economic difficulties which face us and to continue to use 2008 as a platform for the next stage of the city's development."

Mark Featherstone-Witty, co-founder of The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), is hopeful the work of 2008 will continue among groups in the city.

"People were encouraged with some initial funding to do something themselves.

"They became engaged in a culture of we can do this and we can do it ourselves.

"People felt empowered. I hope that continues."

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