New research commissioned by the British Council says Liverpool’s hugely successful hosting of Eurovision has ‘revolutionised’ the event. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool has successfully created a whole new model for hosting Eurovision, a new report claims.
On Tuesday this week Liverpool will officially hand over the hosting of Eurovision to Sweden. Liverpool staged the musical extravaganza over two weeks in May 2023 with many observers believing it to be the best Eurovision ever.
Now a new report Commissioned by the British Council, in partnership with Liverpool City Council and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, backs up those claims, concluding the city has “revolutionised” the event.
This research looked to understand the power and impact on global cultural relations that the UK and Liverpool had when hosting Eurovision.
It used case studies and an international survey to explore whether the event resulted in encouraging future visits, new business opportunities and reputational uplifts for both Liverpool and the UK.
In considering Liverpool’s approach to hosting the competition on behalf of Ukraine, the report says: “Liverpool’s vision for achieving positive impact from the opportunity, has redefined the event’s politics of place in ways that can inspire future hosts.”
It recognises that what Liverpool staged was much more than an arena show and has laid the foundation for future hosts in how to communicate key narratives to a huge international audience.
The report acknowledges that Eurovision 2023 boosted Liverpool’s reputation as a city of music, a place with expertise of delivering immersive cultural events with strong community participation, and a leader in event evaluation.
And it praises the EuroFestival programme – a first for a host city – which saw 24 brand new artistic commissions, 19 of which were by Ukrainian artists, take over the city as part of the celebrations.
It is all noted that this approach forged new, creative partnerships with Ukraine and was a powerful way to showcase Ukrainian culture to diverse audiences. Ukraine was due to host the contest in 2023 but the Russian invasion made this an impossibility.
The City Council’s partnership with the Ukrainian Institute and the British Council in the planning and delivery of this programme resulted in meaningful and tangible cultural relations.
This city-wide embrace of all things Eurovision was a key factor in how Liverpool was positively received. Local businesses and residents flying Eurovision, Ukraine and Pride flags reiterated the inclusivity and symbolised the nature of the event.
“It was seen as Liverpool successfully expressing its values of being a warm, welcoming and friendly city.
In a quote from a Spirit of 2012 representative: “I’m not sure it would be possible within the timeframe to have given it to a city that didn’t have that kind of overall sense of events.”
When analysing where Eurovision 2023 inspired visitors, a survey was carried out with more than 5,000 people from countries including Estonia, France, Poland, Spain and Romania.
A third of those who responded said they were now more likely to visit the UK and Liverpool.
Future host cities are encouraged to adopt a similar approach to Liverpool’s evaluation methodology – again, the process was a first and highlighted that Eurovision 2023 generated £54m for Liverpool city region and welcomed 473,000 visitors.
Liverpool has now set an example of what to assess and how to do it and it should be used as a blueprint for Malmö and other future host cities, the report states.
Eurovision broadcaster the BBC also noticed increased reputational uplift for itself in the wider Liverpool city region and the north of England.
A senior interviewee felt that the event had been “a unifying point across the political divide”, with cross-party support for solidarity with Ukraine and for the BBC.
In summing up how Liverpool could now be perceived internationally, the report says that hosting Eurovision has meant that the city isn’t just recognised for its association with The Beatles – it is now a leader when it comes to hosting large-scale events.
This research project was led by the University of Hull in collaboration with a team of consultants from the University of Brighton, the University of Glasgow, and Royal Holloway (University of London).
Liverpool will officially handover the Eurovision key to Sweden at the Insignia event in Malmö on Tuesday, January 30.