Liverpool 2007: 800 And Enterprising
This proposal, on the theme of Liverpool 2007: Enterprise City of the Future, was first circulated publicly (and very widely) in December 2001, It concerns the need for Liverpool to be forward-looking and engaging as the city progresses through the key years towards 2007 and 2008.
We can – and do! – all hope that Liverpool will become European Capital of Culture in 2008; we can with justification expect that the Manchester-led Commonwealth games in 2002 will benefit everyone in the North West; but of one thing we can be absolutely certain – that in 2007 the City of Liverpool will celebrate its 800th anniversary. No crystal-gazing required there.
So what are we all doing about this? Perhaps not too much yet; but we need to get going.
The lessons of the Millennium are there for all to see: aim high, plan early, and stick at it. In Liverpool even such relatively modest projects as the Hope Street Millennium Festival were first mooted some four or five years before they actually took place.
And another lesson which experience offers, unsurprisingly, is that clear objectives and step-by-step planning lead to success.
Objectives first: What can we celebrate especially in Liverpool’s 800th year? I’d suggest four ‘strands’ to start with: Liverpool’s rich history of international and inter-continental links; its undisputed inventiveness (from George Stephenson onwards); its tradition of grand architecture, landscaping and culture; and its diversity and creativeness, in bad times and good.
Sounds familiar? Perhaps you’re thinking of the admirable themes behind Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture bid. But that, we all hope, will happen the year after the Big Birthday; and plans for it have to be developed in the knowledge that, despite the strengths of Liverpool’s bid, this wonderful European accolade could in the end go to anywhere in the UK.
2007 by contrast is definitely Liverpool’s for the taking. One of the UK’s premier cities – ours – already has 2007 in the bag; so now let’s make sure everyone knows about it.
Back then to objectives. Surely a theme which arises from all the ‘strands’ mentioned is ENTERPRISE? Liverpudlians, through thick and thin, are inventive. They innovate, they find ways round; they are, in short, entrepreneurial. And more and more, they are becoming entrepreneurial in the ways their businesses are developing – big businesses or small, social or straight commercial, imagination and innovation abound.
So I’d say, let’s make 2007 the year to promote LIVERPOOL: ENTERPRISE CITY OF THE FUTURE. Let’s celebrate the past and present, achievements by our diverse communities of every sort, but let’s also determinedly set our sights on the future and what we must make it hold for ourselves and generations to come.
Which takes us back to the need for a step-by-step approach. We must see 2007 as ‘lift-off’ for our futures, not an end point, and we must build up to it carefully, perhaps via annual milestones.
The year 2002 sees not only the NW Commonwealth games, but the Queen’s Golden Jubilee – many will remember the 17,000 children who celebrated with music and drama when Her Majesty visited Hope Street in 1977; perhaps we can celebrate our communities in this way again next year. Then, 2004 is the centenary of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. And so we could continue. Already, I know many will be thinking, ‘Yes, my organisation has something big to celebrate in the years 2002-2007’.
And all these anniversaries have arisen because people in this amazing city of ours Did Something Special. They built a cathedral (or two); they formed a football club (or two); they founded a university (or two or three); they founded many businesses; they developed rich and diverse communities; they built theatres and organised festivals; they achieved things at the very frontiers of science and knowledge.
By all means let’s work hard, very hard, to make Liverpool European Capital of Culture in 2008; but let’s do it in the context of what we already know without a shadow of a doubt will be ours in 2007. And let’s take this wonderful opportunity to celebrate and show-case all that is most exciting and entrepreneurial in our very own Pool of Life.
Here’s a unique opportunity for lift-off, for communities and businesses to come together to make Liverpool’s future. Perhaps, in fact, this is an opportunity which can only be led from the front, by Liverpool’s entrepreneurs of all sorts, to make a better future for everyone. Informal discussions suggest that people from the arts, business, communities, education and science are all incredibly keen to move our city on. Who, I wonder, will join in taking the first steps forward to 2007, to make Liverpool Eight Hundred and vibrantly Enterprising?
And then we really would have something extra which is Liverpool’s alone to add to our European Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008.
This proposal, written by Hilary Burrage, was first circulated on 6 December 2001.