4 November 2013

Michael Eakin, chief executive of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Iona Horsburgh, executive director of FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) addressed a 60-strong audience at a Professional Liverpool lunch held at the Weightmans building on Old Hall Street on Tuesday.

The pair spoke about the seven leading cultural organisations in the city that make up the Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium (LARC) and how important collaboration between these bodies is for the future of the city’s culture. LARC includes the Bluecoat, FACT, Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Tate Liverpool and the Unity Theatre.

Iona, a qualified lawyer who also leads FACT, said: “Liverpool is genuinely extraordinary in its cultural heritage and current infrastructure. The city has real creative talent and we are really lucky in the assets we have compared to the rest of the UK and Europe.

“The city has been built on arts and culture - going right back to the mid-19th Century. This has come from a combination of creative talent and drive, backed by private individuals and businesses in the city and by public bodies.”

Liverpool was chosen to be the European Capital of Culture in 2008 and boasts a strong cultural heritage and world class assets including the Playhouse, the oldest rep theatre in England, The Beatles and the title ‘World Capital of Pop’  as well as having more galleries and museums than any UK city outside of London.

Mr Eakin, who was voted Liverpool Post ‘Leader of the Year’ earlier this month, spoke about how the business economy model for culture works. 

He said: “Collectively, we earn most of our money through tickets and other income streams – but income through public funding has been a core component for the last 70 years; it has been a critical element which has helped to ensure the health of our theatres, galleries, orchestras, arts centres and others.

“The government is keen to see greater corporate and individual support of the arts but how realistic is this?”

Ms Horsburgh spoke about how much the seven leading cultural organisations contribute to the gross value added (GVA) of the city.

“It is estimated that LARC activities annually support a net additional GVA of £32m to the Liverpool city region,” she said.

In 2012, across the seven organisations, there were 1,278 performances, exhibitions and events, 449,000 tickets sold to the value of £7.3m and 4.3 million visitors. LARC represents 530 permanent staff, 1,052 full time jobs in the Liverpool city region and opportunities for 881 volunteers.

John Hall, chief executive of Professional Liverpool, said: “We are blessed to have such wonderful culture in the city and it was fantastic to welcome two major players in their field to talk about this. It is important to recognise the impact culture has on the economy, the social impact it has and the role it plays in helping to raise the profile and reputation of the city regionally and nationally. There will also be opportunity to raise the profile of Liverpool globally with the International Festival of Business next year.”