Liverpool City Council’s Claire McColgan has been awarded a CBE by Princess Anne, during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle this morning (Tuesday 28 February).
The city’s Director of Culture received the recognition – one of the highest royal honours – for her achievements and services to culture and arts across the country. She was accompanied to the event by her husband and children.
Claire already holds an MBE title – which she was presented with in 2009 for her services to culture and arts in Liverpool – but the latest accolade follows the pioneering role she played in the government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) and her continued contribution to the national arts and culture scene.
The ERP initiative alone saw Liverpool host a ground-breaking series of events which helped the region – and the country – get back on track when it came to staging live events.
More recently, Claire has been instrumental in Liverpool winning the bid to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2023, on behalf of Ukraine.
Claire is leading a small, but dedicated Eurovision team which is working day and night to deliver a powerful cultural programme, that showcases the best of Liverpool on an international level – and has Ukraine at its heart.
Claire’s impressive career started at Liverpool City Council over two decades ago, when she joined the Capital of Culture bid team as Head of Regeneration. She went on to deliver the biggest, and most complex, large-scale regeneration programme in the city’s history, European Capital of Culture 2008.
Following 2008, Claire was promoted to Director of Culture Liverpool, a role she has held ever since. She oversees City Halls, parks, culture, arts and the visitor economy, Liverpool Film Office, Cruise Liverpool and Marketing Liverpool, with a budget of £30 million and 200 staff.
Claire led the 08 legacy programme in Liverpool, supporting and funding 35 cultural organisations. She sits on the City Region’s Cultural Partnership and the Visitor Economy Board and is a Town Centre Commissioner for the City Region. In 2020, she was appointed by the Government as Vice Chair of the UK City of Culture panel.
A well-respected and sought-after national and international adviser on best practice in culture, Claire has overseen the biggest events Liverpool has ever staged, including The Giants Spectaculars, the Three Cunard Queens on the Mersey in 2016 and the Liverpool Football Club victory parades in 2019 and 2022.
Director of Culture Liverpool, Claire McColgan, said:
“I have had an absolutely fantastic day. I feel truly humbled to receive this special recognition for the work I deliver, which has roots in this city that I love.
“But of course, it’s not just about me, I am accepting this award on behalf of the whole of the Culture Liverpool team. They have delivered every mad idea (and stopped me from some) and made me laugh every single day. From the newest recruits, to the ones who have been there with me through it all, the city is lucky to have these unsung heroes who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure Liverpool retains its cultural crown at all times.
“I’d also like to thank Liverpool City Council because over the last 20 years it has given me – and the brilliant creatives of this city and beyond – the chance to prove that with a long-term vision, legacy is not just a nice to have, it can transform the economic prosperity of a place. As public servants, ambition and integrity is at the heart of what we do – we are not simply minding a place, we are trying to make it the best it can be and places like Liverpool, with its independent, funny and compassionate personality, are a gift for artists and creatives everywhere.
“So for a girl from Corby: thank you for the recognition, thanks to my team, but above all, thanks to the best city in the world.”
Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said:
“I’ve been lucky enough to work closely with Claire and it’s no surprise to me that she has been awarded this title.
“Claire’s work ethic and that of her team is unrivalled and the roll-call of events they have been responsible for just goes to show why Liverpool is always placed on a pedestal when it comes to culture.
“Being part of the Events Research Programme was a real landmark moment for the city and was testament to the unsurpassable events reputation which has been forged under Claire’s leadership.
“I’d like to congratulate Claire and the team on this well-deserved honour.”