Post Brexit : What next for our ex-capital of culture ?

By Maëlle Fontaine

The debate continues around the outcome of Brexit with MPs rejecting Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a second time by a majority of 149. The number of possibilities around the future of the country still remains uncertain and leaves the question about what happens next wide open.

But what about Liverpool ?

The city has been thriving for the past decade on many levels with 2008 acting as a catalyst with the title of European Capital of Culture. Studies lead by the Institute of Cultural Capital showed that there were many benefits which aimed to regenerate the city as a whole through art and culture. “Impacts 08” revealed that the Liverpool ECoC programme had a total income of £130 million over six years.


Stephen Crone is one of the researchers assistant on this programme currently working on “Impacts 18”,  which explores the legacies of Liverpool as ECoC 10 years on. He explains more about the main aim of their work.

Yet, the general fear of losing funding and free movement for culture and art due to upcoming Brexit still remains present. The Arts Council England (ACE) published a report in February 2018 asserting that the European Union contributes to £40m a year for arts and culture for UK funding and that there will be many disadvantages.

This widespread negativity is expressed amongst stakeholders for instance. Practical changes around freedom of movement or lack of clarity on future trade agreements makes planning for future prospects very difficult. ACE explains that the nature of the arts and culture sector is generally felt as internationally-orientated.

Martin Thompson is Liverpool’s policy officer and works across the council on behalf of the Chief executive. Amongst many roles, he also represents Culture Liverpool. He told Mersey Mash that there are many misconceptions around the issue of Brexit and EU funding. For him, the most predominant problem relies in the perceived identity of the UK as an interconnected country. He told us :

As Brexit is most likely to undermine the UK’s image as a worldwide influence Martin Thompson stresses the importance of re-framing relations between cities, for cities work together at an international scale. Liverpool has already joined 200 cities in the EuroCities programme in order to continue to collaborate through art and culture.

But most of all, the question of funding shines light on the future of our ex-capital of culture as Culture Liverpool has managed to fund over 3 million activities in the past year. They undertake strategic roles with other cultural organisations in the city to co-fund or assist in other ways to deliver art and culture and sustain grants they give out to local organisation.

Liverpool city council has lost 62% of their budget since 2010, but has somehow continued to deliver different events throughout the city.

Martin Thompson says : “It is almost incomprehensible and to have sustained that level of investment in cultures shows a real political will.”

Will Brexit ever come to an end ? The uncertainty and scepticism around the issue has raised many concerned for Merseyside people, however Liverpool’s investment in art and culture throughout the decade and its determination to push through leaves us to think that maybe, there is hope for the industry.

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