Liverpool 2008 Highlights – Full Text

Here is the full text of the Culture Company’s 2008 Highlights Announcement


Liverpool has unveiled the first glimpse of its European Capital of Culture programme for 2008 – with a guarantee of even more to come.

Consisting of 70 highlights – many of them free – the initial programme features concerts, commissions, exhibitions, festivals and premieres across all cultural genres, from public art, architecture, dance, fashion and film to literature, music, science, theatre and visual art.

The city will celebrate European and British legends from Anton Chekhov, Le Corbusier, James Tissot and Gustav Klimt to Benjamin Britten and William Shakespeare.

Liverpool 08 will also feature new work by acclaimed artists such as Jyll Bradley, Ben Johnson, Michael Nyman, Sir John Tavener and Richard Wilson as well as performances by Vladimir Ashkenazy, Seamus Heaney, Akram Kahn, Philip Pullman and Sir Simon Rattle.

Today’s announcement – 13 months out from 08 – is the earliest made by a ‘culture city’ since the concept’s creation in 1985. And further events will be unveiled throughout 2007.

Revealed to coincide with the World Travel Market, the initial 08 highlights are a collaboration between the Liverpool Culture Company and major cultural institutions, artists, performers and venues across Liverpool and Merseyside.

Liverpool 08 also involves partnerships with major national and international institutions such as the BBC, Tate, RIBA and the European Opera Centre. Liverpool has also devised a ‘Cities on the Edge’ programme, to run until 2012, involving collaborations with Bremen, Gdansk, Istanbul, Marseilles, Naples and the non-EU Capital of Culture 2008 – Stavanger.

In a city already internationally renowned for its visual arts offer, 2008 will ensure that this reputation will grow even stronger. The 2007 Turner Prize at Tate Liverpool, from October to January, is the first time this prestigious event has been held outside London, heralding the beginnings of Liverpool’s 08 preparations.

By the opening ceremony in January, the city will have staged The Liverpool Nativity. This BBC live production of the greatest story ever told, through the music of Liverpool, will take place in a variety of locations around Merseyside in December.

The scale of the Liverpool 08 programme means many projects begin in less than 12 months. Starting in July 2007, National Museums Liverpool stage an 18-month exhibition exploring the city’s 800-year history called: A Magical History Tour.

By autumn 2007, artist Richard Wilson will have begun his major new commission to reshape a city centre building, set for demolition, entitled: Turning The Place Over.

Building on the success of the city’s National Friend Ship project, Liverpool – in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund – is exploring a series of celebrations of national heritage and identity involving cities right across the UK. Kicking off in 2007 it is to climax with a major performance in Liverpool in spring 2008.

A year-long programme of free street performances and public art has been specially commissioned to transform all areas of the city into a giant canvas and stage. The public art programme, curated by the organisers of the Liverpool Biennial, begins in January with a Winter Lights Festival to extend the Christmas lights season.

As an added feature of this city-wide celebration, a whole myriad of venues are being employed and created for events, from bus-stops to cathedrals plus specially built pavilions for community performances. The world’s oldest railway station at Edge Hill will be transformed into an arts centre.

A series of new venues will open in 08 such as the 10,000 seat Liverpool Arena at Kings Dock in January, a gallery and museum at the University of Liverpool and a new Art and Design Academy at Liverpool John Moores University. And the UK’s oldest arts centre – The Bluecoat – will have re-opened.

Liverpool 08 boasts a wealth of innovative performances and premieres including a new commission from Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist as well as the world premiere of her first feature film at FACT, which will also stage a Film, Video and New Media Festival in January.

Liverpool’s communities will also be celebrated throughout 2008 and in February a specially commissioned Lantern Parade will be curated to celebrate Chinese New Year.

The support and involvement of the public was critical to the successful 08 bid and Liverpool has since developed a multi-million pound Creative Communities programme. In 2008, there will be projects as diverse as the animation of doctors’ surgeries to one-off street dances to ensure Capital of Culture reaches every corner of the city.

With public participation a major element of 08, plans are in place to get the city dancing in readiness for two spectacular Viennese style balls in April, with music played by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. These concerts will be staged to coincide with the UK’s first comprehensive exhibition of work by the legendary Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, at Tate Liverpool, which is also the inspiration for a wider series of concerts by the Liverpool Phil.

From April to July, the Walker Art Gallery hosts a blockbuster exhibition entitled: Monet to Hopper – The Artist and The Railway, also featuring work by painters such as Pissaro and Van Gogh.

The new Shipping Lines Literary Festival, by the University of Liverpool, will feature readings by giants of the written word including Seamus Heaney, Melvyn Bragg, Doris Lessing, Roger McGough and Philip Pullman.

As summer begins, Liverpool Cathedral will stage Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in June, featuring Cologne Cathedral Choir, the choirs of Liverpool’s two cathedrals with the Liverpool Phil and Choir. The Liverpool Phil will be commissioning a wide range of music and song from leading composers. Members of the public will also have an opportunity to contribute to the Liverpool Song Book.

Liverpool is one of the world’s undisputed music capitals and this will be celebrated at The Liverpool Sound – a once-in-a-lifetime concert, featuring world famous artists which will be beamed live across the world from the city’s historic waterfront. And from July, there will be an exhibition of the city’s musical legacy entitled: The Beat Goes On, at World Museum Liverpool.

In June, loveliverpool hosts The People’s Festival, a weekend celebration of working class culture from football, fashion and music to the role of the voluntary sector. The festival culminates with a specially commissioned work by Michael Nyman, the UK’s best known contemporary composer, exploring European Football Culture. This will include images of the greatest moments selected by fans. The event also features music Nyman wrote as a memorial to Hillsborough, as well as a piece called ‘Extra Time’ for a fashion catwalk show featuring famous footballing WAGs, dressed by Liverpool boutique Cricket.

A maritime festival will be held throughout July featuring the spectacular start of the The Tall Ships Races 2008, which involves more than 3,000 young sailors from across Europe. For young people there’ll also be a festival over the summer school holidays, which features the creation of a cultural village and the sitting of the European Youth Parliament. Merseyside will also stage the finale of a nation-wide schools’ Shakespeare Festival in July.

In a city with a growing reputation for its ground-breaking productions, its theatres will be staging an array of new ‘Made in Liverpool‘ creations. Two new musicals will celebrate landmarks in The Adelphi Hotel, in April, and the seminal late 1970’s nightclub – Eric’s, in October. There will also be a new interpretation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters in May and a production of King Lear, featuring Pete Postlethwaite, is under discussion.

Performance in sport will be a key theme with 2008 an Olympic year and Liverpool will stage the European Senior Boxing Championships in February in the Liverpool Arena. This is a qualifier for the Beijing Games, whose closing ceremony in September will trigger an event in Liverpool that will start London’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Other sporting highlights on Merseyside in 2008 include The Open at Royal Birkdale in July, the World Firefighter Games in August and the finale of the Tour of Britain in September.

And autumn sees the return of Sir Simon Rattle to his hometown to conduct both the Berlin Philharmonic in September and the Liverpool Phil in October.

In October, Liverpool also hosts both the RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture and the UK’s biggest exhibition for 20 years on the seminal designer and architect Le Corbusier. This will be housed in the Crypt of the Metropolitan Cathedral, running until February 28 2009.

Collaborations between international and Liverpool artists and residents form a major strand of 2008. Jyll Bradley’s year-long Fragrant Project will take a unique look at the story of the city’s Botanical orchid collection – the largest in municipal hands. In partnership with local artists, Bradley will create a major piece of art work, as Liverpool prepares for its Year of the Environment in 2009.

And beyond Liverpool, England’s Northwest is joining in the 08 festivities. Cheshire celebrates the Year of the Garden. Lancashire focuses on its rich culinary heritage as it hosts the Year of Food. Picking up the pace Manchester has crowned 2008 the Year of Sport, whilst Cumbria will be encouraging us all to get outdoors in its Year of Adventure.