What is a city, without its Culture?
“What is a city without its people? Without its vibrant culture? Without its bustling streets? The pandemic saw Liverpool and cities like it fall silent around the world as we put on masks to shield ourselves, protect each other and batten down the hatches for what we hoped, we wished, would be a short, forgettable season.
While our heroic NHS and frontline workers across the city region worked tirelessly to serve and protect us, we turned to our phones, laptops, televisions, tablets, and computers. From zoom quizzes to online theatre, Netflix binges and virtual museum tours — we caught up, toured, and engaged with culture from around the world, zoomed into our homes for us to devour and enjoy. Meanwhile, our streets fell silent, our historic buildings stood in the dark with no one to see them, our theatres became a stage for the ghosts of shows gone by and our cobbled streets missed the beat of footsteps young and old.
Liverpool has never been a city to stand still, to be silenced — rhythm, music, culture — it runs through our DNA and despite its cruel attempts, the pandemic could do not take away what runs through our streets and its people — our culture.
Culture in its very essence, is a set of shared beliefs, a set of values we share, it’s something that unites us and in Liverpool we have a unique culture, a can do attitude, a belief that we can and will survive anything thrown at us and yes, we will come out stronger on the other side.
We are pioneers, we are forward thinkers, we don’t take things lying down in Liverpool — we were the first city to pilot covid testing, we were the first city to pilot covid safe events and we were the first to introduce life back to our city streets, to inject our city with its culture, its life blood and get back on our feet to not only stand, but to dance to our unique beat!
We are a city without walls, we have no boundaries and don’t believe in discrimination — on so many levels, our without walls project reinvigorated our city bringing the hospitality sector outdoors. While it’s residents waivered on safety worries, we reassured, supported, and ensured that the hospitality sector could return and fight back, literally removing the walls and bringing the food, drink, atmosphere safely back onto the streets of our city. You want fresh air? Covid safe venues? Plenty of room for hands, face and space? We have it. We gather (covid safely) in our unique Liverpool way to find solutions, to support each other, to bring the city slowly back to life.
With the safe return of the hospitality sector came the vibrant release of street theatre, art, music, dance and performance to our streets once again. Around every corner once dormant sleepy streets are one alive with colour, characters and creativity. Heritage venues closed and unloved, their secrets hidden away once more are now alive with art adorning their exteriors and statues which have overlooked its people for centuries taking on modern day looks as they are redressed and loved once again breathing life into corners of the city forgotten and slowly awakening.
As music, theatre and colour once again start to bleed through our city streets, cultural events, performance and artistry slowly seep colour back into our city walls as laughter, footsteps and noise echo across the old and new, turning a once black and white city into a vibrant cultural rainbow once again.
Our city has no walls, it has no limitations, but a city without its people, it’s culture at the heart of it, is just bricks and empty streets. Our culture is in our people, it is in the generations who have pounded the pavements before us, who have moored on our waters and made this city their home and today its flooding the streets with performance and art as we are truly a city, without walls.”
Alicia Smith, Arts & Participation Manager, Culture Liverpool