LABOUR leader Joe Anderson has resigned from Capital of Culture in disgust at its failures.
We agree with everything that Councillor Anderson says - which is why we are reproducing his entire statement from today's Daily Post...
CITY Labour chief Joe Anderson today walked away from his Capital of Culture role and accused the festival board of failing to deliver on its promises.
In a hard-hitting attack he said the Culture Board and the Culture Company were:
FAILING to engage communities and “real” people.
FAILING to provide a 2008 events programme that excited people.
FAILING to provide a worthwhile legacy for the city and missing the chance to kick-start creative industries.
He lashed the city council for “mismanaging” the 08 funding equation and leaving Liverpool £20m short.
Cllr Anderson vowed to fight on from his position as Opposition Group leader in an effort to ensure the city delivered the best-possible Capital of Culture.
He said: “Wherever I go I have community groups say that they don’t feel part of Capital of Culture.
“People are constantly complaining about over emphasis on city- centre investment and when you visit parts of Speke and see the dereliction there it really hits home.
“I’ve been going round mounting a robust defence of Capital of Culture but my heart hasn’t been in it.”
Cllr Anderson claimed 08 had moved away dramatically from the promises within the bid document that persuaded the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to award Liverpool the Culture accolade in 2003.
He said: “I met the judges – Jeremy Isaacs, Tessa Sanderson – and told them all about the communities and our bid’s aspirations for them.
“But these aspirations simply haven’t been met.”
And Cllr Anderson – born in the city centre just yards from the Paradise Street development – also refused to acknowledge that the so-called “2008 effect” had played a massive part in the city’s fast-paced economic renaissance.
He said: “It’s a myth. The renaissance is real but it was begun by European Objective One funding and maintained by government grants.
“Don’t forget that when the bid document was launched the Grosvenor shopping development was already in the bag as was development of the King’s Dock. Renaissance was kicking in anyway.”
Cllr Anderson also claimed arts organisations and creative companies have been betrayed by the way 08 has been developed and have suffered from lack of involvement and no worthwhile legacy.
He pointed to Liverpool’s literary legends Alan Bleasdale and Willy Russell as people who should have been consulted and utilised, perhaps in the creation of theatre schools to develop young talent post-2008.
He said: “I ask myself what the legacy benefits will be and I can’t really answer that question. The Tall Ships coming back again? A bigger Mathew Street Festival?
“There is no cultural legacy – only lack of involvement and lack of vision.”
It was an open secret in political circles that Cllr Anderson was struggling to reconcile his role on a cross- party and public-private sector board with his position as the city’s premier voice of opposition to the ruling Lib Dem Group which controls culture activity.
He now believes he can work more effectively “unfettered” by collective responsibility.
He added: “I’m now free to make whatever comments I deem constructive – sometimes positive, sometimes critical.
“I’ve felt for months that talking to some members of the culture board is like banging your head on a brick wall.
“Everything is met by defensiveness or accusations of negativity.”
Cllr Anderson said he believed the culture board was guilty of building up unreasonable expectations about the festival from the word go.
He said: “This festival will not be the wealth-creating, job-creating panacea for all the city’s ailments that it was cracked up to be.
“There is still time to provide people with the opportunity to take part and also to give the cultural sector better opportunities to participate.
“And if there’s one good thing to emerge from all the money that’s been spent it’s that the city has got a re-branding. It might be money well spent. We now need to have confidence in what the city has to offer.”
Cllr Anderson said he would continue “with passion” to promote the city in a positive way.
“This isn’t about party politics. It’s about me as a person and a Liverpudlian. And about a city with a legacy of debt.”
Joe Anderson on .....
... ROBYN ARCHER
WHEN she was brought in everybody thought WHO?
But it was the Emperor’s New Clothes and no-one said much. Then we hardly saw her for 12 months – even though we were paying her. She then comes up with a programme and that’s when I came up with my remark that the only Aussie she hadn’t signed was Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. David Henshaw and Mike Storey brought her halfway across the world but she knew so little about Liverpool. She quits and we’re a laughing stock, giving her a huge pay-off while community groups are getting knocked back for £2,000.
... THE 2008 PROGRAMME
I’M not convinced there’s really anything outstanding in there.
There’s nothing that jumps out – no wow factor, no big theme. I’m terrified the 2008 opening ceremony is going to be all about B-list celebrities. And as for 2007 we’re already halfway through it and I don’t detect any great birthday excitement.
... 08 BOARD MEMBERS
PHIL Redmond and Roger Phillips were a breath of fresh air and I wish we had a few more like them. They are not controversial but they speak as they see it and as people in the street see it.
There should definitely be a broader mix of people on the board. In four-and-a-half years we haven’t achieved much.
... THE FUNDING DILEMMA
THE council has failed to prepare a war chest since COC was awarded in 2004. The Government has supplied more than the £10m requested by the city council in the Bid Document. Hoping that the Government would bail out the city if it let the problem fester until the last minute was a high-risk strategy.
The council should have been honest with the people and said “Look, this is what Cultural Year will cost and we will have to save for it between 2003 and 2008”.
... COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
VISITORS might like 2008 but I don’t think residents will.
Go to Dingle, Everton, Speke and you’ll find people who’ve come up with ideas but they are frustrated at getting neither financial nor physical support. It’s a failure that we haven’t encouraged them to participate.