Downtown Liverpool Week

Liverpool Vision Model - Hope Street (& cranes) 06.7.17 005.jpg Downtown Week (11-18 June 2006) is unique in the U.K. to Liverpool. Perhaps it’s a sign of a new independence of mind in our citizens that people in the city are developing this entrepreneurial event for themselves, and not because of some outside or official imperative?
‘Downtown’ is, in the words of the organisers of Liverpool’s Downtown Week 2006, ‘the beating heart of our great city, a celebration of the culture, the creativeity, the business, the new downtown living renaissance; indeed all the activities that are bringing our downtown back to life…. and, what’s more, it’s unique to Liverpool! There’s only one downtown in the UK and it’s at the heart our great metropolis!’
With enthusiasm like that, how could I deny myself the opportunity to be a part of this imaginative enterprise?
We all know about the entrepreneurial drive which moves some of the great downtown cities of the USA; here’s one Stateside bug which I really don’t mind reaching British shores.
Enthusiasm begets energy; energy begets engagement
There is a fundamental truth in the claims of downtowners:- there’s much more going on than we can ever know, but it’s both essential and fun to explore and find out as much as we possibly can. It’s a lesson also being learned, slowly and sometimes painfully, by other communities in other places.
This rich diversity, the result of centuries of ebb and flow, of enterprise and migration, is both a challenge and an enormous opportunity. It’s what Downtown Week is really about.
Scheduled events for Downtown Week include guided walks, visits to special places, commercial and retail opportunities, cultural events and whatever more various people can come up with. In the end, however, what we’re being offered is a chance to open our eyes and see what’s right before us.
Social glue
As ever, it boils down to finding ways to get people to communicate and, from that, to collaborate to mutually beneficial ends. It’s an engaging and enterprising technique which many of us find valuable (c.f. Arts Based Community Development), not least because it encourages people to explore areas of possible mutual interest.
Perhaps the point is that we need Downtown Week (and other civic and cultural celebrations) precisely because otherwise, in the concrete jungle, it’s difficult to find occasions to share and jointly to develop the sorts of relationships which make life better for everyone. This is recognised in one way or another by, amongst others, the Civic Trust and my own organisation, HOPES: The Hope Street Association.
A commonality of meaning
The old-style village way of life most surely had its shortcomings, but it also had established cycles of events with meanings common to all. It is perhaps a sign of a maturing metropolis that, after many years of invisibility, Downtown is now once more coming to the fore through community programmes and celebrations.
There’s so much still to be done, but at last there are signs it’s understood people have to do it for themselves.
Liverpool’s Downtown Week is still in its infancy. Before long however the infant will be a teenager and, like all teenagers, will doubtless seek to spread its wings elsewhere. As other parts of the UK also take up the idea of celebrating the heart of their civic communities, just remember where you heard about it first – from the real thing, the cutting edge of Liverpool’s city centre, from people who actually live, work and play in Downtown Liverpool.

Posted on May 29, 2006, in Arts, Culture And Heritage, Events And Notable Dates, Liverpool And Merseyside, Politics, Policies And Process, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. What a fine summary of Downtown Week Hilary. As cities revive around the world the complex essence of downtown to the cultural, social and civic life and well-being of their citizenry has had to have been understood for the regeneration to begin.
    Downtown’s are the rich, complex, vibrant hearts of great cities, but planning has actively diluted the chaos since WWII. Zoning into single use areas of consumption and corporate centres has probably been the chief culprit when it comes to urban decline, especially with regards to perpetuating the negative imagery of the inner city, as when you remove the sense of identity and place, you remove that sense of affection, aleigence and ownership…. “it belongs to them, or at least, it does not belong to us”
    Reversing this process is vital if we are to maximise the value that downtown can provide, as central marketplace and centre of civic collaboration. This has been taking place around the world as stated, and Downtown Week is one attempt to highlight and celebrate these processes in Liverpool. It aims to reverse this process by highlighting and celebrating the role of entrepreneurship, culture and creativity that provides the backbone of the most vibrant of downtowns.
    Getting more people downtown, creating more activities as a way of doing so all combine to create a genuine growth in the quality of offer the city has. It is an attempt to hasten the upward spiral of growth, entrepreneurial and crerative development, bringing communities together at the heart of their city and creating more to be proud of.
    I would encourage all individuals, community groups, cultural and creative organisations and business to take up the mantle of Downtown Week, tap the potential that the week provides and help grow this marketing tool, business builder and visitor generator.
    At the heart of it all however, is the recognition that downtown Liverpool is the manifestation of all that is good about our supremely special city… and if for no other reason it is worth getting on board to help celebrate this fact and this special place… the fact that this has real dividends to provide, in bulging tills and visitor counts is simply the icing on a great metropolitan cake!
    The initiative needs marketeers and PR people, companies, groups and individuals to put on extra events that generate more publicity and the major agencies (The Mersey Partnership, Chamber of Commerce, City Council, Merseytravel etc) to adopt the week as a profile raising and marketing tool for the city.
    Promotion of and participation in the week will be pushed by a not for profit initiative to help coordinate the weeks growth and provide a resource for journalists and publicists as well as the general public. Perhaps some out there would be interested in joining Hopes and our other core activists by joining our group?
    Love your city, Love Downtown, get on board and help build Downtown Week. Downtown Week 07, next year will run from 10th – 17th June.
    Downtown’s great, don’t you just love it!

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