Wirral takes the reins as Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture for 2024


Wirral’s year as the 2024 Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture got underway this week, with organisers promising an incredible year with something for everyone to enjoy.


Civic leaders joined representatives from the region’s creative sector to launch this year’s programme at the Williamson art gallery, where guests were also given a preview of ‘Is anybody listening?’, an exhibition by acclaimed local photographer Craig Easton.


Mayor Steve Rotheram giving a speech from a lectern

Mayor Steve Rotheram at the event.


The Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture initiative was launched by Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region in 2019, with the support of Sir Philip Redmond, chair of the UK City of Culture Advisory Panel. The programme is part of Mayor Rotheram’s commitment to invest 1% of the city region’s funding specifically for culture every year – the first scheme of its kind in the country.


Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:


“I’ve long maintained that our area is the UK’s cultural capital, but it’s not lost on me how we’ve achieved that enviable reputation. For all the investments we make in culture, none of our achievements would be possible if it wasn’t for the creativity and passion of our residents.


“It was after discussions with Sir Phil Redmond that I committed to investing 1% of funding to culture and it’s meant that we can invest in transformational programmes like Borough of Culture. It’s through initiatives like this that we can empower our local communities to celebrate their own unique blend of creativity and culture.


“To put it simply, creativity is in our DNA – and I am really looking forward to seeing what’s in store for Wirral’s year in the cultural spotlight.”


Wirral was the city region’s first Borough of Culture back in 2019. The year saw more than half a million people taking part in events and activities and encouraged many creative organisations and networks to flourish. Wirral handed the title on to Sefton in 2020, Halton then followed in 2021, Knowsley in 2022 and St Helens in 2023.


The Leader of Wirral Council, Councillor Paul Stuart, said:


“We’re excited to be setting out a programme which will help make culture available to everyone and celebrate the places and people that make Wirral so very special.  I am especially delighted that young people are at the heart of the programme, with commissions and projects set to inspire a new generation of artists and creatives in a borough which has already produced so many.


“Events and projects will reflect the major regeneration underway along the Left Bank of the River Mersey and provide an opportunity to tell Wirral’s story – celebrating the people and places that make Wirral unique, where it’s been and where it’s going.”


The year-long celebration of culture, arts and heritage aims to inspire residents to get creative and encourage new and returning visitors to Wirral’s many attractions, including Eureka! Science and Discovery, the Lady Lever Art Gallery, and the Floral Pavilion, who are all on board for a year celebrating the very best of what the borough has to offer.


The Chair of Wirral Council’s Tourism, Communities, Culture and Leisure Committee, Councillor Helen Cameron, said:


“Wirral can boast a fantastic cultural offer – wonderful open spaces, world class arts and heritage attractions and fabulous food, drink and hospitality.  We are looking forward to showcasing our borough and extending a very warm welcome to visitors who come to spend time here and share in our special year.”


Sir Phil Redmond speaks at the Borough of Culture launch.

Sir Phil Redmond speaks at the Borough of Culture launch.


Following the Craig Easton exhibition, other early highlights of the year include local artists, musicians and collectives taking centre stage in the Convenience Gallery’s ‘The Town is the Gallery’, which will present new commissions in unexpected venues across Birkenhead from February.   Convenience will also be collaborating with the Open Door Charity on the LoC programme, an opportunity for young people aged 11-19 on Wirral to take part in a range of free to access creation sessions, and exciting and fun workshops in textiles, DJ’s, Painting, Folklore, Ceramics, Writing and more.


In April, the Williamson be partnering with The Lowry in Salford to bring a new L.S. Lowry exhibition to the gallery, featuring his iconic work Going to the Match.


In May, Birkenhead Park, which is shortlisted for UNESCO World Heritage Site status, will host Luke Jerram’s stunning touring artwork Gaia, providing an opportunity to see planet Earth floating in a breath-taking setting, and in the town which sent ships across globe.


Over the summer, expect events of all kinds, including Make Fest Wirral in June which will encourage people to get creative in sustainable ways and the much anticipated return of the Future Yard’s multi-venue music festival Future Now.


Exhibitions and a range of other activities will tell the story of key anniversaries most notably the centenary of Mallory and Irvine ill-fated Everest attempt given both£ of these famous mountaineers had links to Birkenhead.  As we head towards Autumn, look out for exciting announcements about lighting up the Left Bank of the Mersey and the finale for the year.


The Chair of Wirral’s Borough of Culture Steering Group, and Founder and Director of Future Yard CiC, Craig Pennington, said:


“As part of 2019’s Borough of Culture, the Future Yard Festival set the course for what would eventually crystallise as Birkenhead’s celebrated community music venue of the same name and a status as Wirral’s first Arts Council England funded National Portfolio Organisation. I am extremely proud to be chairing the partnership set up to plan this year’s programme and to the return of our multi-venue festival of music discovery as Future Now envelopes Birkenhead over August Bank Holiday weekend.”


Alongside these highlights, Wirral’s Borough of Culture will shine a light on the efforts of people and organisations across the borough who make arts, heritage and creativity part of everyday life for local communities.  A small grants fund will be launched in February to help people connect through creativity across Wirral – whether this is in libraries, in parks, in schools, in churches or in community centres.


Borough of Culture is funded by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as part of its culture programme, with support from Wirral Council. This year’s programme and many culture and heritage projects and activities which will run into 2025 are also benefitting from over £300,000 from the Liverpool City Region’s Strategic Investment Fund (SIF).


For more information and updates about Wirral Borough of Culture 2024, visit www.wirral2024.com and follow #Wirral2024 on social media.


 


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