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Cultural heavyweights from across the world are heading to Liverpool for a conference which explores the big questions cities face today around culture AND also reveals the real legacy of the European Capital of Culture 2008 title.

Cities of Culture 30 Years On: Who Has the Edge? is an international symposium taking place on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 October. It will see world-renowned speakers head to the Town Hall to discuss experiences in cities big and small, from Barcelona to Shanghai, Marseille to London and Porto to Los Angeles. They will debate topics such as what counts as a cultural renaissance in the 21st century, what are the risks to success, what are the impacts of local and international partnership working and whether going bigger is always better. Key speakers include; Maria Balshaw CBE, Jon Snow, Ulrich Fuchs, Lord Michael Heseltine, Jude Kelly CBE, Professor Ann Markusen, Darren Henley OBE, Alice Webb, Professor Michael Parkinson, Martin Green CBE, Tamara Rojo and more.

Cities of Culture, 30 years on. Who has the edge?

In 2018, Liverpool looks back into the 10 year legacy of becoming European Capital of Culture. It does so as the first city to have fully documented its journey from inception, amassing over two decades of evidence on the impact and value of cultural interventions as catalysts for urban change.

On 18-19 October 2018, the Institute of Cultural Capital (ICC) is partnering with Culture Liverpool, British Council and the CreArt European Network to present the results of 15 years interrogating the long term impact of cultural interventions in cities around the world: from Impacts 08 to Impacts 18.

Save the date and join us at this two-day international symposium. We will place Liverpool in conversation with other cities worldwide to answer these questions:

When being a city of culture is everyone’s aspiration… Who has the edge? What are the legacies? Where is the evidence?

Discussions will evolve around one major research presentation, six plenary sessions and three parallel workshops dedicated to rethinking the big questions that both established and aspiring ‘cities of culture’ face today.  See below the outlined agenda:

17 October

Official Reception with Mayoral 100 Club

At British Music Experience, Pier Head, Liverpool (7 pm – 9 pm) 

  • Official welcome to Impacts 18: with Harvey Goldsmith
  • Registration opens to delegates

18 October

Liverpool Town Hall

Impacts 18: Longitudinal Research Presentation

Long term legacies of a European Capital of Culture (9 am – 10.30 am)

  • Keynote: Dr Beatriz Garcia presents core findings from the ICC longitudinal research programme, interrogating Liverpool’s experience from 2000 to 2008 and 2018.
  • Roundtable: From European Capitals of Culture to National Cities of Culture.
  • Confirmed panellists: Beatriz Garcia, Phil Redmond, Claire McColgan, Martin Green

Beyond the post-industrial (10.30 am – 12 pm)

30 years on, what do we mean by cultural renaissance cities? Do we still need a ‘rags-to-riches’ narrative to appreciate cities of culture?

  • Keynote: Prof Ann Markusen
  • Chair: Paula Ridley
  • In conversation: Michael Heseltine and Phil Redmond

[Break for lunch]

The risks of success (1 pm – 2.30 pm)

What happens to cities when they become the ‘model’ to follow? Can cities enable creativity if they become ‘too good to fail’?

  • Keynote: Jude Kelly
  • Roundtable chaired by Jon Snow. Liverpool in conversation with panellists representing ‘model’ European cities of culture: Barcelona, Berlin, Nantes and Lisbon

Bigger is not always better (3 pm – 4.30 pm)

Can world cities slow down? Can mega-events be culturally sustainable? From mega-to micro events in world cities

  • Keynote: TBC
  • Roundtable chaired by Darren Henley, bringing Liverpool in conversation with global & mega-event cities: London, Paris, Shanghai

Cultural Event programme:

  • Cultural events round the city
  • 20 years of Liverpool Biennial
  • 30 years of TATE Liverpool

19 October


Northern Cities (8.30 am – 10 am)

What is the future for culture-led regeneration? Ways forward in the North of England.

  • Breakfast welcome by City Mayor Joe Anderson, OBE, Hosted at the Titanic Hotel and Rum Warehouse.

    Built in 1846, the Titanic Hotel is part of the redevelopment of the historic Stanley Dock complex and the Ten Streets Regeneration Scheme, providing the perfect backdrop to discuss the future of our cities whilst appreciating our heritage.

  • Roundtable chaired by Alice Webb, with Northern Cities: Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle

Liverpool Town Hall

Cities on the edge (10.15 am – 11.30 am)

What we can learn from the margins? Port cities, small cities, remote cities of Europe

  • Keynote: TBC- leading CREART city representative
  • Roundtable chaired by Bob Scott, with panellists representing cities on the edges of Europe, bringing Liverpool in conversation with Marseille, Porto, Kaunas and Genoa.

Liverpool regeneration and reimaging bus tour (11.45 am – 12.45 pm)

Impacts 18 themed discussions while touring 30-years of culture-led physical transformation

[Break for lunch]

Liverpool Town Hall

Connected Cities (2 pm – 3.30 pm)

Closer or further apart? European cultural networking post-Brexit

  • Keynote: Maria Balshaw (30 years of TATE Liverpool, 30 years of European exchange)
  • Discussion chaired by Michael Parkinson with panellists representing the European Commission, CREART network, UNESCO Creative Cities network

Parallel Workshops  (3.45 pm – 5.30 pm)

Parallel sessions discussing the impact of large scale interventions through three distinct thematic lenses. Each session builds on Impacts 18 evidence. The sessions involve creative interaction techniques to facilitate productive dialogue between academics, practitioners and policy-makers. Participants represent Liverpool & guest cities of culture from across Europe.

Closing statements (5.30 pm – 6 pm)

  • Cultural Events around the city
  • Conference soiree at Radisson Blu

For more information about cultural events taking place in Liverpool this year, visit

For more information about Impacts 18 longitudinal research and the impact culture has had on Liverpool, visit |


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