Arrival City

Arrival City presents a portrait of Liverpool, and more specifically Toxteth, as a city of immigration.


Liverpool’s historic status as an important port city makes it one of the most unique ‘arrival cities’ in the UK, with many layers of history still making up the identities of people who have lived here for generations. This past has influenced the architectural character of the city - we walk through streets named after celebrated anti-abolitionists and past grand buildings paid for by slave-traders. One of the questions Arrival City asks is: how does the past affect the people’s way of life in Liverpool?

Toxteth has a turbulent history, often situating it as a centre of media controversy and racist misrepresentation. There are many who remember well the days when the area’s residents bore the brunt of Thatcher’s militarisation of the police. The local councils continue to be disproportionately affected by the Conservative government’s austerity measures. Perhaps as a result, relatively low rent prices and proximity to the city centre make Toxteth an attractive place to live for new immigrants from all over the world who are finding their feet. Liverpool, and especially Toxteth’s relationship with immigration is multi-layered, made up of different pasts and presents.


This abundance of perspectives can be heard in the poetry, spoken word, and music of the area’s artists. Toxteth is filled with cultural and religious centres, and community-focused organisations who work hard to support the area. We want to hear from Toxteth’s residents about their experiences and perspectives on immigration and refugees, especially first-hand, to create an event which facilitates a moment of communal reflection.


On 6 July, in conjunction with Festival 31, we will bring Arrival City to Toxteth Town Hall, a focal point for the social and economic life of many residents with immigrant or refugee backgrounds in the area. We are inviting the residents of Toxteth to come and participate in an open discussion, in response to a lineup of poets, rappers and musicians offering their viewpoint through their words and sounds: exploring Toxteth’s history, and celebrating residents’ vision of the future.


The back and forth between the attendees and performers will be as crucial as the performances themselves. The questions asked and opinions offered will create a clearer picture of Liverpool as an Arrival City. The project aims to show complex, contradictory perspectives which challenge the idea of ‘immigrants’ as a group of people, showing it instead to be a vast umbrella term. Arrival, and the complex process of staying, can be looked at from all sides.

Throughout the project we will be capturing the performances and the spontaneous discussions that arise, both on film and through written documentation; both through these open events, and interviews both with the performers, and residents of Toxteth, leading towards a second event at Toxteth Reservoir in September. The aim of this second event is to combine a marketplace of art and ideas with real marketplace of food and goods, with stalls from local caterers and businesses. This market is about showing what Toxteth has to offer in a fun environment, while challenging people to think about what they can offer back, be it attention, time, a platform, or economy.


Arrival City is supported by the Goethe-Institut, and is part the larger project Arrival City on which the Goethe-Institut is working globally with the following cities: Boston and New York, Caracas, Karachi, Lima, Liverpool, Marseille, Mumbai, Prag, San Francisco and Santiago de Chile.


Credit: © Still from Leech, By The River (2018)