‘No cultural policy to speak of': Liverpool 2008

O'Brien, David. 2010. ‘No cultural policy to speak of': Liverpool 2008. Journal of policy research in tourism, leisure and events, 2(2), pp. 113-128. ISSN 1940-7963 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Recent academic work on European Capital of Culture (ECoC) has fallen into two broad categories: either evaluative, based on assessing the effectiveness of hosting ECoC for policy agendas; or critical, questioning the rationale behind ECoC and its impact on the cities that have held the title. However, little attention has been paid to the role ECOC has played in the ‘modernisation’ of urban governance, particularly in the UK. This article seeks to explore ECoC’s role in city governance by examining the specific case of Liverpool, ECoC 2008 and the related local government agencies in the city, particularly Liverpool City Council (LCC). A narrative of the history of cultural policy within LCC, using institutionalist theory, shows that cultural policy has had a difficult evolution within a city that was initially reluctant to devote institutional capacity and resources to cultural matters. Problems in the build up to 2008 reflect the influence of ‘institutions’ in Liverpool’s political culture and history. The influence of these institutions is at the root of the uncertainty surrounding the long‐term viability of cultural policy in the city. As a corollary to the exploration of the role of institutions in Liverpool, a concluding discussion of ECoC’s role in city governance offers prospects for the cultural policy settlement within Liverpool in the post‐ECoC 2008 era, particularly focusing on the role of Liverpool’s cultural sector as a motivator for cultural policy.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute for Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship (ICCE)



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Date Deposited:

04 Aug 2015 09:14

Last Modified:

29 Jul 2016 10:43

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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