Category Archives: Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience

So Is Salford’s Media City A ‘Wonderful Town’?

We went to see Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town performed by the Halle Orchestra at The Lowry in Salford last night.  And by coincidence, it transpired, yesterday was also the day when the BBC began transmitting the popular Breakfast show from its brand new operation in Salford Quay’s Media City.  Apparently, despite the anticipated longer term advantages of being in Salford rather than London, there are still BBC people who think it not done to be going Up North regularly to broadcast to the nation.

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When In Rome (Auditorium: Parco della Musica)

We’re in Rome this week, for our long-awaited Summer break. It’s our second visit to this city, but some things have changed a bit over the past fifteen years. For a start, the Auditorium wasn’t even build then; so that’s where we headed today – where we learned more about regeneration through culture, we were disappointed as tourists, and we thoroughly enjoyed a concert by the virtuoso pianist Stefano Bollani.

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Is ‘Ruin Porn’ A Good Approach To Regeneration?

Summary: The Centre for Cities 2011 report published in January makes for interesting reading, especially in its focus on the challenges ahead for places like my home town of Liverpool. The debate at the launch – which, sadly, I had to miss – will have been compelling.
The Centre’s 2011 projections are fairly upbeat for locations such as Bristol and Edinburgh for other cities such as Liverpool (and Birkenhead), Newport and Swansea is measured and dire.

To read more of this article and to comment, please visit Hilary’s professional website HERE.

Talking Is Key To Engagement, But Do We Know How?

Summary: Why do most of us spend such little time communication in communities?   Support for bonding between parents and dependent children is surely a critical element in community life.   When it comes to effective communication, early years practitioners and researchers can tell us much. Their programmes benefit whole communities, not ‘just’ infants and their carers.

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A Gathering And A Big Lunch In Toxteth’s Princes Boulevard, Liverpool

09.07.19 Liverpool Toxteth Big Lunch & Gathering Princes Boulevard in Toxteth, Liverpool, was once a bustling avenue, the home of wealthy merchants and many townspeople. Then local fortunes took a desperate downturn, the nadir being the Toxteth riots in 1981. But more recently things have begun to look up, as demonstrated for instance by The Gathering of May 2008, and today’s Big Lunch in this historic setting.

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The Lowry, Manchester Royal Opera House Plans, Infrastructure And Regional Benefit

Lowry ballet banner The Lowry arts centre has this week stated its opposition to current plans for the Palace Theatre in Manchester to host all elements of a proposed Royal Opera House development in that city. The arguments on both sides seem however to miss some critical points: firstly, this is a regional not a sub-regional issue; and secondly the infrastructure and the local provisions should have been sorted years ago. Some other opportunities to develop the regional cultural offer have already been shunned; and now it looks as though this may happen yet again.
Arts Organisations, Regeneration and Regions, Sub-Regions & City Regions.
Reports this week suggest that the Lowry in Salford feels left out and disadvantaged by the proposed development of a northern (second) home for the Royal Opera House, if as a result all ROH-related northern ballet and opera productions – some of them currently hosted by the Lowry – were to be located in Manchester‘s presently fading Palace Theatre.
This is not the time or place to go into questions of sub-regional and local politics – the cities of Manchester and Salford must get along as best they can – but there are a few larger questions which now arise which might have been addressed earlier.
Regional aspects of the arts organisation proposals
Firstly, investments and development of this size are clearly regional as well as local matters. The Lowry, a Millennium product, cost over £100 million to set up, and doubtless the cost of the new proposals would also reach many millions.
It is surprising therefore that the ‘arts and culture’ debate thus far seems to have centred in its positive aspects only on the ROH and the Manchester orchestras. (Perhaps, as a slightly mischievous aside, there are very few left who recall that it was the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, not a Manchester ensemble, that performed at the Covent Garden Royal Opera House in May 1981 during the Royal Ballet’s golden anniversary celebrations?)
Locating and programming
Whatever, the there is now also a Royal Ballet in Birmingham, and Opera North may be intending like the Royal Ballet to make its northern activities to the Palace Theatre in Manchester; but the Lowry wants to keep them in Salford.
It has to be said however that the Lowry has disappointed some of us in its more recent opera and ballet offering. To begin with we were excited by the range and frequency of national-level opera and ballet at the Lowry, but over time this seems to have been diluted by a preponderance of more local and / or less ambitious scheduling. Once enthusiasms for a venue are lost, it is probably hard to get them back.
Travel and catchment
One unfortunate element in the Lowry scenario is its very poor infrastructure. It is almost impossible for non-Mancunians to reach (and return home from) on public transport. Unless you take the car, you can’t sensibly get there after work or in bad weather….
Despite the trainline from the West of Greater Manchester (Warrington, Liverpool, etc) running within sight of the Lowry, it doesn’t actually stop there, and one has to proceed into Manchester and return out on a local route. It’s perhaps relevant that the first stopping point, Manchester Oxford Road station, is however almost next door to the Palace Theatre.
Regional benefits
The Lowry deserves a measure of sympathy for the situation in which it is placed by Manchester’s proposals; but there is already a huge plan for the relocation of parts of the BBC to that site. And there is a feeling that the Lowry could have positioned itself better as an attractive venue: limited serious arts programming, poor and / or restricted catering provision, little public transport and expensive car parks do little to ensure a consistent and devoted fully regional audience.
There again, Manchester itself needs to explain why it has not, as far as can be seen, looked beyond its own boundaries to other North West areas, in sharing enthusiasm for the ROH proposals.
Lost and endangered opportunities
A few years ago Liverpool had an opportunity, which it decisively shunned, to make a bid for the National Theatre Museum to be relocated to Merseyside. That Museum used to be located right alongside the Covent Garden Royal Opera House; but despite the potential for inside influence of very eminent Merseysiders, not least on the board of the Victoria and Albert Museum (which owned the Theatre Museum), the bid never materialised and there is no longer any dedicated location for the theatre collection at all. Most of the collection is now stored away in Kensington, at the V&A itself.
The possibilities of real cultural synergy between Merseyside and Greater Manchester have already therefore been seriously blunted by lack of vision, imagination and enthusiasm. Let us hope this is not about to happen yet again.
Sir Richard Leese, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, is surely correct in sharing with previous Secretary of State for Culture, Andy Burnham, the view that the regional benefits of the current proposals for regeneration and investment could and should be significant. But if everyone is not persuaded soon, there will probably be no action, or benefits at all.
Read more articles on Arts Organisations, Regeneration and Regions, Sub-Regions & City Regions.

Regional Sustainable Development, Citizens And Strategy

Where to go? ~  green, grey & brown sites Sustainable development is a challenge for us all. If we don’t engage everyone, future generations will soon begin to pay for our neglect. For this reason, there are in the UK Sustainable Development bodies with national, regional and more local focuses. But what should these groups actually do? Here are some of the ideas which I as one individual have thought about as a member of a sustainable development group with a regional remit.
Sustainability As If People Mattered
What are the regional Sustainable Development (SD) bodies in the UK for? Is their role to provide ‘advice’ to politicians and state-employed policy-makers at the regional level? Is it to lead by example and implement programmes of work? Is it to be a talking shop between people representing different ‘stakeholding’ interests in SD? Is it something else altogether? Or is it all of these things?
Meaning and leadership in regional Sustainable Development
My personal view is that good regional approaches to SD are all these things.
Regions in the UK are all of a size (between 5 and 10 million people) where well-crafted action for sustainable development can have meaningful impacts. Regional SD groups should therefore:
* work together, with each other and with others, on the basis of mutual confidence and shared understandings – both of the factors shaping the region’s physical and socio-economic contexts, and of the perspectives of all partners;
* recognise that everyone is a stakeholder in this difficult challenge, not just those who are formally represented at the regional level;
* understand that SD is different from almost all other processes in that what happens now and in the near future cannot be revisited on the same basis and revised at some point later on: SD is globally shaped and uni-dimensional in respect of time;
* also understand that ‘good enough’ and actually deliverable has some chance of success, whilst ‘beyond any scientific doubt’ but not yet actionable is of very limited value in this period of rapid eco- and socio-economic change;
* offer visible and clear thought leadership to ‘people on the street’, as well as more formal and conventional strategic advice to those who formulate regional policy;
* recognise that this is real life; our current insights into the challenges of SD are far from perfect. Nurturing an ethos of shared responsibility in all who live and work in a region is however critical, right now.
Supporting regional approaches to sustainable development
The UK government has been working with the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), Defra and others to promote regional SD. To this end, there does now seem to be a modest level of financial support.
It is nonetheless puzzling that these national bodies apparently imagine that each regional SD group can identify without further effort what the specific or even unique challenges for their region are. Yet, whilst this can be done for matters such as flood risk, the issues are far less obvious in many other respects. Not many policy makers and politicians at the local level, for instance, are even aware of what the risks might be.
Much work still needs to be done to bring together the relevant social, economic and environmental profiles for each region of the UK, and to encourage regional SD protagonists to share pro-actively their assessments and responses to these profiles. Just as UK regional strategies in science remain weak, so do those for SD.
Hearts and minds
There is a compelling case for regional SD bodies to recognise that ‘advice’ alone is not enough – especially in a time of flux for overall regional development policies, even before we come to the ultimately much more pressing matters of global warming, diminishing bio-diversity, economic difficulties (domestic and global) and the general well-being of current and future citizens.
Regional SD approaches are about leading from the front (no-one else has that specific focus and remit…). They must recognise the stakeholding of every person in their region, and find ways to reach them all. This is about encouraging dialogue, sharing good practice, aligning policy and developing the ideas which will help us all to face the future.
To achieve this requires not only analysis of the current regional state of play, but also commitment to help change the cultural climate as well as the environmental one.
Here is one challenge which a rational-legal or scientific approach alone simply cannot resolve.
Read more about Sustainability As If People Mattered.

Future Currencies: Carbon? Water? Knowledge?

What will be the fundamental ‘currencies’ of the future? What, if we are serious about global sustainability in all its forms, should these currencies comprise now? It’s likely, if we collectively are ever going to achieve a level of long-term viability for the human race, that we will have to shift the emphasis from money (or the gold standard) to the really basic requirements for life on earth – carbon, water and nitrogen, plus knowledge of all sorts to keep the whole show on the road.

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Easter Sunday Is Eco-Sunday: The Day UK Resource Self-Sufficiency Ends In 2009

The new economics foundation (nef) tells us that, as of today, the UK has used the levels of resources it should consume during an entire year, if it were environmentally self-sufficient. In 1961, nef calculates, the UK’s annual eco-debt began on 9 July; by 1981 it was 14 May, but in 2009 it falls on 12 April, Easter Sunday. But how can we help people in their daily lives to address and cope with these frightening calculations constructively, rather than such information just causing further alarm? Science and ‘facts’ alone won’t get us where we all need to be.
Sustainability As If People Mattered.
I’m not sure that those of us already concerned with sustainability approach these matters in the best way to engage others yet to be converted – nef* says Easter Sunday (eco-debt day 2009) is ‘a day which for many has become synonymous with over-indulgence’. That’s a pretty unempathetic perspective on one of the UK’s few annual family holidays.
Sometimes perhaps the force of our convictions and fears about sustainability can make us sound a bit crass.
Offering hope, not inferring guilt
Inducing guilt and/or alarm is not often the most effective mode by which to gain mass support, in an open democracy, for complex and uncomfortable change. Personally, I’d rather see Easter as an occasion with a message, whether sacred or secular, of new beginnings and hope – an opportunity for positive reflection on the future.
Eco-protagonists and scientists are vitally important to our understanding of what’s happening to the environment. But they’re not always good at helping people in the wider community to face up to the enormous environmentally-related challenges which, we must urgently acknowledge, are already upon us.
Research findings and predictions based on rational calculation do not always translate as clearly as the scientists imagine into policy acceptable to the wider citizenry. To the person in the street it can all seem just too difficult and scary, well beyond the scope of ‘ordinary folk’.
Engaging people for positive change
Nonetheless, the UK’s increasing eco-debt is desperately alarming, and something we need to get everyone to think about, right now.
The question is, how?
[* Andrew Simms (2009) Ecological Debt: Global Warming and the Wealth of Nations, cited in Transition Network News, March 2009. Andrew Simms is nef Policy Director and Head of the Climate Change Programme.]
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The University Of Liverpool Post-Graduate Poster Day

09.03.27 Liverpool University Post-Graduate Poster Day: 'Poster Day is a rainforest of research diversity' The University of Liverpool has one Graduate School for all disciplines. The School’s annual Poster Day (27 March, in 2009) enables all these fields to be showcased together. I had the happy task with a few other ‘external’ judges of selecting the first-ever prizewinner for the new ‘North West Hub’ award, to emphasise links between academia and the wider world.
Education & Life-Long Learning and Knowledge Economy.
The exemplary aims of Poster Day are to offer graduate students practice in the skills required to communicate to a degree educated public, and to provide an opportunity for them to learn more about research being undertaken in other parts of the University.
09.03.27 Liverpool University Post-Graduate Poster Day: exhibiting in Mountford Hall
The University of Liverpool Graduate School Poster Day exhibition was fascinating; the cross-faculty range of work under one roof would surely have taken months to get fully to grips with, but we had just a couple of hours. I used the time to talk to some very interesting people, all passionate about their work and the reasons they were doing it.
09.03.27 Liverpool University Post-Graduate Poster Day: No. 307 ~ Woolly Welfare? Reliably Counting Lame Sheep
09.03.27 Liverpool University Post-Graduate Poster Day: No. 270 ~ An Empirical Investigation of the Libyan Audit Market & No. 272 ~ Corporate Governance and Firm Value
09.03.27 Liverpool University Post-Graduate Poster Day: No. 31 ~ Achaemenid Egypt: 130 years of Mystery
The involvement of ‘external’ visitors was a new step introduced this year. Here we see some of the Graduate School Team, including Dr Richard Hinchcliffe (Director of Postgraduate Training) with my fellow judges:
09.03.27 Liverpool University Post-Graduate Poster Day: Dr Richard Hinchcliffe (Director of Postgraduate Training) with the Graduate School Team & Poster Day external judges (NW Hub)
But in the end we had to make a decision, spoilt for choice though we certainly were.
The general criteria for the North West Hub overall prize included visual impact, organisation of the material, the accessibility of and rationale for the research, and, last but not least, the enthusiasm and clarity of the researcher him or herself. It seems very fitting that the award was after much discussion made to Andrew Lee-Mortimer for his engineering research project around Design for Sustainability.
09.03.27 Liverpool University Post- Poster Day: No. 85 ~ Andrew Lee-Mortimer: Design for Sustainability (NW Hub prizewinner)
Read more articles about Education & Life-Long Learning and about the Knowledge Economy.

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