In July UNESCO deleted Liverpool from its list of World Heritage sites and now the city council has created a new role to make sure the city’s heritage is protected. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool City Council is looking to kick-start a new chapter in the preservation of the city’s heritage assets following the loss of World Heritage Status in the summer.
Following stand-off lasting almost a decade, UNESCO deleted Liverpool from its list of World Heritage sites in July. It was unhappy at proposed development on the waterfront and the go-ahead for Everton’s £500m stadium brought matters to a head.
Now, as Liverpool looks to move on from the saga it has created a new role – head of heritage preservation and development. Alan Smith’s job will be to curate and promote its historic assets and to act as a champion for the city’s heritage sector.
Alan has been involved in operations and management of the city’s Grade I-listed St George’s Hall since November 2007. His goal will be to support the preservation, protection, improvement and enhancement of all of the council’s heritage assets and historic parks.
His primary focus will be on the stewardship of St George’s Hall, Town Hall and Croxteth Hall. He will also be tasked with leading a team to devise a new arts strategy for the city’s collections, and a new fundraising strategy. That is as well as curating an events, engagement and education programme to showcase and celebrate the city’s heritage to audiences of all ages.
He has helped transform the fortunes of St George’s Hall over the past decade into a major events space and wedding venue. He is currently overseeing the introduction of its new DCME-funded digital visitor platform, the History Whisperer. Mr Smith will also be designated the role as the city’s official historian.
The 59-year-old, who was educated at Derby and Liverpool Universities, with a degree in geography and a masters in Tourism and Leisure Management, grew up in Tuebrook. He will also play a role in liaising with regional and national partners in the heritage sector, as well as community groups across the city.
“I’m beyond thrilled to have been given this role,” said Alan. “I’ve experienced with my own eyes and ears what heritage means to the people of Liverpool and to visitors at home and broad having had the sheer joy and privilege to be manager of St George’s Hall this past decade.
“Liverpool is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in Europe, in every aspects of the arts, and its collection of over 2,500 grade1, 2 and grade 2 buildings, monuments, and green spaces places it as one of the historically richest cities in the world.
“Our heritage is a truly fascinating journey and it has bequeathed us a treasure trove of stories of human endeavour – of unimaginable suffering, world-defining discoveries and unparalleled creativity.”
Cllr Harry Doyle, Cabinet member for Culture and Tourism, added: “His track record at St George’s Hall shows he has all the abilities needed to shape an exciting programme of events and education that will celebrate the city’s global historic significance and showcase our unique story to new audiences.
“The council is facing difficult economic choices but Alan has displayed a flair for bringing partners together and to attract funding to enhance people’s understanding of our artistic and historic collections.”