There was a Liverpool Culture Company media briefing today. It was a bit of a party atmosphere as everyone is so happy with the way the year has gone. I came away with about 4 pages of soundbites and loads of facts and figures about 2008 but very little about the year ahead.

We’ve already heard that there will be a Cultural Collective headed by Phil Redmond to ensure that arts organisations continue to work together and that Claire McColgan has been appointed as Head of Culture – leading a team of 25 staff from early 2009. The Council have pledged to maintain arts at current levels for the next two years and the slogan from now on is that Liverpool may no longer be the European Capital of Culture but it will always be a European Cultural Capital

You can read full press releases below…

Liverpool’s tenure as the UK’s European Capital of Culture 2008 has generated an £800m boost to the regional economy.

The Liverpool Culture Company revealed today the bonanza was fuelled by the city welcoming 3.5 million first time visitors in ‘08 – 25% of all tourists – generating £176m alone in tourism spend.

Liverpool’s tourism sector has boomed with a record one million hotel beds sold in the city and average occupancy rates are at an all time high of 77% over the year.

The Liverpool ‘08 events programme, which included The Opening Weekend, The Tall Ships’ Races, The Turner Prize, The Stirling Prize, MTV Europe Music Awards, The Beat Goes On and Art In The Age of Steam, Liverpool Biennial, Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Sound concert, exhibitions on Gustav Klimt and Le Corbusier, Go Superlambananas and La Machine – the spectacular 50ft spider – attracted 5.2m million people to the city.

Liverpool’s Capital of Culture programme also helped generate 15 million visits to cultural venues and events since January 1, recording an average 30% rise on 2007 – with cultural attractions across Merseyside reporting a similar increase.

Two major winners are Tate Liverpool and Merseyside Maritime Museum. The Albert Dock venues each attracted over one million people for the first time in a calendar year – recording a combined 65% increase on last year.

And according to market research 70% of people in Liverpool visited a museum or gallery in 08. The UK average is 59%.

The surge in cultural tourism has seen a 150% increase to Liverpool’s Tourist Information Centres and the city has risen up the UK league table as the third favourite city to visit, according to a Condé Nast readers poll.

The Liverpool Culture Company has produced a 92-page report chronicling the highlights and the impact of the year which involved more than 10,000 artists, 160,000 participants and 67,000 schoolchildren across 7,000 events in more than 1,000 venues.

Liverpool has also experienced unprecedented media coverage which has been calculated to be worth more than £200m globally. More than 12,000 articles have appeared in the UK press, with more than 20 hours of primetime programming on the ‘08 year across the major TV platforms alone.

The city has been hailed for producing the most effective and memorable Capital of Culture containing 60 World and European premieres in music, film, theatre and art, with 30 new commissions by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

And the European Union now considers Liverpool to have set a template for future Capital of Cultures. In 2008 the city welcomed more than 100 international delegations to see how it delivered the year.

Post ’08 plans are well underway for Liverpool, which invested £400m in cultural infrastructure projects in the run up to ’08. Projects included the new ECHO Arena, FACT and Victoria Gallery and Museum to the restoration of the Bluecoat Arts Centre and St George’s Hall.

Major cultural infrastructure developments worth a further £200m have already begun such as the new Museum of Liverpool Life (opening in 2010) and the Design Academy at John Moore University (opening in 2009).

Liverpool City Council, led by Councillor Warren Bradley, has made a commitment to maintain current funding levels for the arts over the next two years worth £8.2m.

The local authority has appointed a new Head of Culture – Claire McColgan, currently Executive Producer at the Liverpool Culture Company, to lead a new 25 strong team from early 2009.

And this week Phil Redmond, Creative Director of Liverpool Culture Company, announced he will lead a new independent body, called The Cultural Collective, to ensure arts bodies across the region continue to work together.

Phil is also directing the final official Capital of Culture event: Transition – The People’s Celebration. This will be held on Saturday, January 10 at Liverpool’s Pier Head from 6pm-7pm, 12 months to the day the city officially launched its ‘08 year.

Liverpool’s Capital of Culture themed year’s programme will continue with 2009 – The Year of Environment and 2010 – The Year of Innovation.

Liverpool is also the first city to have conducted a longitudinal assessment of being a European Capital of Culture. Based over five years this pioneering academic study looks at the economic, social, cultural and physical impacts of Liverpool ’08.

A final report will be published in summer 2009 by the Impacts 08 research programme at University of Liverpool and John Moores University. This team will then publish a paper on Liverpool’s research, framework and management models for 2008 as a reference source for cities and major cultural programmes.

Liverpool ‘08 – By Numbers

366 Days.
7,000 Events.
10,000 Artists.
67,000 Children – every child from every Liverpool school has been involved.
160,000 Creative Community participants.
13 Royal visits.
20 miles of event barriers.
1 mechanical Spider
119 Superlambananas.
1,000 Volunteers on the ‘08 Welcome Programme.
1 Million visitors to both Tate Liverpool and Merseyside Maritime Museum.
1 Million hotel beds sold.
77% hotel occupancy levels – year average (record 81% for October)
3.5 million new visitors –  25% of all tourists in ‘08.
15 million visits to a cultural event or attraction.
£200m Global media value.
£800m Economic benefit to the Liverpool City Region.
70% of people in Liverpool have visited a museum or gallery (UK average is 59%).
3rd favourite UK city – as voted by Condé Nast Traveller readers
79% of people think Liverpool is a city on the rise – the highest % of any UK city.
150% increase in visits to Liverpool’s Tourist Information Centres.

Visitor figures to selected cultural attractions – Jan to Dec* ‘08    % Increase

National Museums Liverpool            2,668,000                    33
Tate Liverpool                    1,088,000                     68
Mersey Ferries                      700,000                    33
Echo Arena and BT Convention Centre    600,000                Open Jan ‘08
Central Library                      568,000                     6
Liverpool Cathedral                  519,000                    22
FACT                        468,000                    11
Liverpool Empire                    457,000                    4
The Bluecoat                    395,000                       Reopened Mar ‘08
‘08 Place                        365,000                    60
Metropolitan Cathedral                356,000                    32
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall             271,000                    24
The Beatles Story                    201,000                    30
St George’s Hall                    167,000                Opened Apr 07
Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse        163,000                    22
LFC Museum                    162,000                    7
Royal Court                    148,000                    3
Spaceport                        110,000                    67
Victoria Building and Gallery              37,000                Opened July 08
Magical Mystery Tour                  31,000                    46
Open Eye                          18,000                    96

* Figures rounded to the nearest thousand, December figures projected