Liverpool’s ‘year of culture’ generates £108m for the city economy

Programme of events to mark 10 years since Liverpool was European Capital of Culture generated £85m alone and attracted more than 2.2m people. Tony McDonough reports

River of Light
Liverpool’s River of Light event in November 2018. Picture by Liverpool City Council


More than 2.2m people flocked to a programme of events to mark 10 years since Liverpool was European Capital of Culture, generating £85m for the city’s economy – quadrupling the 2017 figure.

This figure rises to £108m when revenues generated by George’s Hall, the Town Hall, Liverpool Cruise Terminal and Liverpool Film Office also taken into account.

A report being presented to the city’s council’s Culture and Tourism Select Committee this week will reveal how the events programme proved a huge hit with both Liverpool residents and tourists from elsewhere in the UK and overseas.

Giants return

Crowning glory of the events programme was the third and final return of the Giants in the Liverpool’s Dream extravaganza which saw 1.3m people take to the streets of Liverpool and Wirral, generating more than £60m. It was Liverpool’s biggest-ever public event.

Other events in the calendar included China Dream, a nine month programme celebrating Chinese contemporary art and culture, Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta and the Bordeaux Wine Festival, the River of Light fireworks spectacular, Liverpool Pride and Chinese New Year.

Music also played a key role with the Liverpool International Music Festival in Sefton Park attracting more than 50,000 revellers and Liverpool Feis, a brand new music event for the which saw 10,000 fans head to the Pier Head to enjoy a celebration of Irish music.

The Liverpool 2018 programme was made possible thanks to the support of the City Region Combined Authority which invested £5m from its Single Investment Fund.

More than 1.2m people came to see the Giants in October 2018


Incredible figures

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “Seeing these incredible figures can leave no one in any doubt that 2008 was a springboard for this city to build on its cultural ambitions – 10 years on, we are one of the world leaders when it comes to staging unforgettable, crowd-pleasing events.

2018 was a special anniversary for Liverpool and from the outset the aim was to bring new, exciting additions to the city, but also importantly shine a light on the enviable events calendar that we are now so accustomed to.

Recognising our success in the cultural world is important, but we are always looking forward to what we can continue to deliver, which makes Liverpool such a desirable city to live, work, study and play in.

Times of austerity mean we have to think differently about how we stage events – however, having a full cultural calendar is the new normal for Liverpool and we can look forward to another year of exciting activities ahead.”

More than 50,000 people flocked to the 2018 Liverpool International Music Festival


Cruise terminal

During 2018 Liverpool Cruise Terminal welcomed more than 100,000 passengers and crew, attracted around 50,000 spectators to the waterfront during ship visits and generated an economic impact of £7m.

Liverpool Film Office has recorded its most successful year in its 30-year history, with 366 different film and TV projects filming in Liverpool and the wider city region and St George’s Hall and Liverpool Town Hall also has a successful 2018.

In terms of supporting the wider culture sector in Liverpool, the report also reveals:

  • 36 organisations received funding totalling £2.9m per year via the Culture Liverpool Investment Programme in 2017/17 and 2017/18 – these included the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Unity Theatre, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Pride and Writing on the Wall.
  • The funding provided by the city council safeguarded 1,780 jobs and provided work for more than 4,000 artists.  The city council funding allowed the organisations to raise another £30m.

It is estimated that for every £1 invested in the cultural sector, £10 is brought back into the city and at least £45m economic impact is generated.

Director of Culture, Claire McColgan, said: “Liverpool 2018 perfectly encapsulates why we are globally renowned as a city for investing and believing in the power of culture.”

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