Wales missing out on Capital of Culture benefits
Jul 9 2008 by Rhodri Clark, Western Mail
Only sign of connection between Liverpool’s Capital of Culture and Llangollen is a sheep sculpture
WALES is missing out on the benefits touted when Liverpool won its multi-million-pound Capital of Culture bid, it was claimed as the Llangollen Musical Eisteddfod started yesterday.
There was no sign of the Capital of Culture event at Wales’ biggest annual cultural festival – which yesterday kicked off with a concert by singing superstar Elaine Paige – even though a tie-in was proposed by Liverpool’s bid leader in 2004.
The only visible connection between the two events was a surreal Superlambanana sculpture in Denbighshire County Council’s pavilion, a copy of a larger one featuring in Liverpool’s Capital of Culture event this year.
However, the decision to bring in a copy of the Japanese sculpture was made by local authorities in North Wales, rather than being an initiative of Liverpool Capital of Culture.
The Llangollen Eisteddfod has done its own advertising in Liverpool, in an attempt to entice people visiting Capital of Culture events, and the two festivals are jointly hosting a visit by a group of Yemeni performers.
In 2003, when Liverpool was announced as the winner of the European event – seeing off rival bids including Cardiff’s – North Wales was predicted to benefit from spin-offs.
Liverpool bid leaders had already tried to court the National Eisteddfod, which in the event will be held in Cardiff in 2008.
In 2004 Sir Bob Scott, chairman of the Liverpool bid, visited the Llangollen festival and told the media he wanted a formal tie-in between the International Eisteddfod and the Capital of Culture in 2008.
“I would say that it is far more likely for something to happen with the International Eisteddfod than the National,” he said.
In November 2004 experts reporting to Tourism Partnership North Wales said they were disappointed to find the Capital of Culture would produce spin-off spending in Wales of just £1.4m to £2.8m – compared with £2bn of investment and 14,000 new jobs expected in connection with the event in Liverpool.
Janet Ryder, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, said: “North Wales has been wooed and then dumped with no ceremony. It’s deeply disappointing but perhaps not surprising because this seems to be a pattern whereby Wales is promised spin-offs from events such as the City of Culture and London Olympics but, when they actually materialise, we see no benefits at all.
“This happens time and time again where Wales is used as collateral to gain some benefit elsewhere. It’s about time we woke up to the fact we’re being used.”
Llangollen’s MP, Martin Jones (Labour, Clwyd South), claimed the Liverpool team had flagged up the benefits to Wales to bolster its own bid.
“I don’t see any positive spin-offs for Wales,” he said.
Mervyn Cousins, the Llangollen Eisteddfod’s new executive director, said staff at Liverpool Capital of Culture had changed since Sir Bob Scott proposed the tie-in.
The two events were on good terms, and Mr Cousins had used contacts in the city to encourage a school choir from Liverpool to compete this week.
“Liverpool is only an hour away. I say to Liverpudlians: ‘Come and see us.’ We’ve done more advertising in Liverpool this year,” he said.
Mike Doran, spokesman for Liverpool Capital of Culture, defended Liverpool’s association with North Wales this year.
“We have been involved in several concerts, such as the Liverpool Welsh Choral Union’s St David’s Day concert with Aled Lloyd Jones, the Flintshire Artfest in March and the Voices Across the Ocean concert in May, with more to come.
“In terms of the National Eisteddfod, the City Council were talking about hosting the National Eisteddfod but that was vetoed.
Source: Western Mail