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The Economic, Social And Physical Impacts Of ECOC Essay

The award of European Capital of Culture to Liverpool (ECOC) 2008 in 2003 helped to revive the dreams of this south eastern city as it had been experiencing an all time economic low. As the city seeks to revive the former image of its city centre, industrial sites and economy, it has adopted the legacy of culture – led regeneration. The people of this city have been seeking to take Liverpool from economic and cultural oblivion to where it is supposed to be today.

Liverpool has grown from economic decline to new improving heights of economic growth which are still on an upward trend due to numerous investment activities. The award of ECOC has seen the city achieve tremendous growth in all sectors for example the industrial, investment and cultural sectors. The economic, social and environmental impacts of ECOC In June 2003, Liverpool surprised many by being nominated to become UK’s European Capital of Culture, ECOC (2008).

This decision was influenced by several factors such as the city’s art collections, a wide range of cultural collections as well as the city’s architecture. This has in some way contributed to several regeneration objectives. The award of Liverpool ECOC 2008 has greatly enabled the city to emerge from a state of economic decline to a vibrant economy. In fact Liverpool’s economy is among the leading in the entire UK. The city has been regenerated and sites which had been neglected have undergone renewal to such an extend that they now fit the class of a world-class city.

Liverpool needs to strike a balance between the social, cultural and economic dimensions of urban regeneration of an event-driven nature with a view to strengthening the role played by urban cultural policy. This city will succeed to re-image and regenerate itself through special events and cultural activity. Fortunately, the opportunity to do these two most important things has been granted by the award in 2003 of ECOC. It is now upon the city to make the most of this chance and lift itself from the economic problems it has been facing for sometime now.

Liverpool needs to strike a balance between the social, cultural and economic dimensions of urban regeneration of an event-driven nature with a view to strengthening the role played by urban cultural policy. This city will succeed to re-image and regenerate itself through special events and cultural activity. Fortunately, the opportunity to do these two most important things has been granted by the award in 2003 of ECOC. It is now upon the city to make the most of this chance and lift itself from the economic problems it has been facing for sometime now.

The future of the cities that will become ECOC cities looks bright as the standards have been set (Booth, 1996, p. 79). They can draw from the examples of Liverpool, Glasgow and Barcelona in order to plan on how to approach the three major issues of economic growth, cultural and social development all balanced (Balibrea, 2001, p. 187-210). The growing interest to use of culture as a tool to facilitate urban regeneration is a result of efforts whose objective is to turn industrial cities into economies that are service-oriented.

This legacy has been highly successful in Liverpool. It has impacted positively drawing the attention to potential investors to this city which has resulted in an economic turnaround. For over 30 years, this has been the major preoccupation of many European cities who are members of European Capital of Culture (ECOC). In 1990, Glasgow became the first city to engage actively in ECOC assessment and this has shaped the objectives of ECOC members since then. For Glasgow, this assessment bore fruits as the economic impact was instant.

Liverpool on its part emphasizes strong community involvement (Gomez, 1998, p. 85). The danger with this approach is that the authorities in charge of this initiative seem to be focusing too much on social cohesion to the detriment of the projected financial and economic impacts. Future ECOC cities need to draw a balance between socio-cultural and economic objectives so as to arrive at achievable objectives for an all round development of their cities (Boyle, 1997, p. 96). ECOC 08 will be assessed in terms of economic, social and physical impacts.

On the field of economics, the four areas that need to be assessed carefully are; job creation, unemployment, tourism and the business or corporate sector. The reorganization of the city’s physical features for example parks and playgrounds and the control of industrial emissions impact a lot on the environment The award of Liverpool ECOC 2008 has had both positive and negative results, but the gains outweigh the losses by a big margin. The establishment of Urban Regeneration Company paved the way for urban renaissance (Du Noyer, 2002, pp. 63-71. This was the first of its kind in the country.

Another driving force was the success of the culture bid which has facilitated the starting up of many economic activities which have been of a lot of benefit to the city of Liverpool (Bianchini, 1990. pp. 41-68). This came along with various economic benefits for example in the tourism sector as the number of visitors to Liverpool in one year more than doubled. It was expected that 12,000 more jobs would be created in the tourism sector. The branding of Liverpool as ‘the world in one city’ has resulted in many economic gains, not only in the tourism sector, but in several other areas.

This slogan simply implies cosmopolitanism, multiculturalism and social diversity. It has generated an additional spending of 2 billion pounds into the city’s economy which is a major boost to the overall economy which had been lagging far behind those of other cities and even that of England as a country (Duffy & Hutchinson, 1997, p. 41). It is justifiable to say that Liverpool’s bid has been successful in reversing economic decline, a factor that has been occasioned by a change in the way the city’s government formulates its policies. Besides, the award has triggered a wave of numerous investments in the city.

This has been a major boost to the economy of Liverpool and it is no wonder it is the most flourishing economy in the country, having outgrown that of the country itself. It is a fact that regeneration programmes that lack the component of culture can not work, and as a result of this Liverpool has incorporated into its programmes this dimension of evaluation. This has offered a chance for involvement by the community in the urban policy of the city and it is through this genuine involvement that a successful regeneration has been achieved.

Urban entrepreneurialism has got a chance in the city and many investors have established various businesses in the various sectors that have come up in the wake of the award. Private sector investment has been on a sharp increase in this city especially in the retail business, call-centres, offices and hotels. The overall number of tourists visiting the city of Liverpool has increased at a very high rate and the spending of has almost doubled from 335 million pounds to 604 million pounds. The number of International passengers arriving at Liverpool airport has also increased to 190 percent.

The impact of this trend is an improved economy, more job creation and an increase in social activities due to interaction with people of different cultures from all over the world and the result is an enrichment of the cities culture (Kong, L. 2000 pp 385-390). The impacts of ECOC 08 are that there has been a registered growth of employment of up to 10. 4%, and this growth is higher than that of all other major cities of the UK, for example Manchester, London and Birmingham. The economy of Liverpool has been enjoying a steady growth over the years and it is now catching up with the rest of the other cities in the UK.

This has been aided by the political changes that have taken place since 2003 when it was awarded ECOC 08. The average economic growth is actually above that of the UK itself. Besides bringing considerable economic gains, Liverpool ECOC 08 has enabled investment; specifically in those projects that promote social cohesion as well as those that promote cultural activity on a grassroots level. Projects whose job is to redevelop central parts of Liverpool are increasingly becoming prominent. Paradise Street is one such part which is being developed at a cost of 800 million pounds.

The benefits of this project include the creation of four thousand permanent jobs mainly in the retailing sector. Merseyside has not been left behind as private investment has been on a rapid increase, and there is a 30% increase in the investors who have shown interest in putting up investments there as announced by Mersey Partnership, a group that has been on the fore front pushing for this cause. This in turn translates to an increment in job creation and subsequently more employment opportunities. Potential investors have been flocking Liverpool to get a chance to do business in the wake of the Liverpool ECOC 08 award.

The housing sector is among the greatest beneficiaries. The investors in this sector have been making supernormal profits given the fact that property prices have risen by 10 percent. This indeed is a considerable increase and the implication is that profits have also gone up by the same margin if not more. This has been brought about by speculation which has kept these prices going up (Eisinger, 2000. p. 36). This sector is experiencing speculative purchases and this is the main factor which has been driving prices up.

The success story of Liverpool is attributed to the report called ‘socio-economic assessment impact’ plan which was drafted way before the city won the bid. This impact assessment would be put in place in the event of Liverpool winning the bid, which it did, and therefore it started from a point of advantage having anticipated and prepared enough for the sudden change of status and the way business would be conducted afterwards. This report had as principal focus assessment of the economic impact the award would bring to Liverpool, Merseyside including the North West region.

It focuses on what the culture is able to make in terms of the urban competitiveness, critical mass in culture sport which are the basic requirements for the city as well as the national economy to be competitive. The report undertook a detailed analysis on the trends of employment industries and creative culture based in the city (Duffy & Hutchinson, 1997, p. 40. The increase in investors in Liverpool has had the positive impact of the creation of 32,000 new jobs which had been projected in the report. These jobs are mainly in the cultural as well as the creative industries. This has been successful as a result of trend growth.

Liverpool is a shining example of economic success. This is so because the city had been going through economic recession prior to the late 1990s when its council’s senior management had to be radically reorganized and attention was shifted to addressing the issue of economic decline which had been the case for over 30 years. The driving force to this sudden change of things was as the result of a study called the ‘Liverpool – Manchester Vision Study’ which sought to find a solution to the woes that had been facing these cities for a long time (Cochrane, Peck & Tickell, 1996, pp. 3-79). The ultimate solution to this would be to draft a legacy which includes all the stakeholders, more specifically in the tourism sector where everybody had to be brought on board. Liverpool’s renaissance draws heavily from a policy agenda which is pro-growth in orientation but the problem with this renaissance is that the distribution of resources is unequal. This explains the rather odd fact that the poorest people in the UK are to be found in Merseyside (Evans, 2003, p. 83). These are families who earn less than 10,000 pounds per year.

The council authorities in Liverpool should not lose focus neither let go of the opportunity presented by the award so as to draw up legacies that will help spur socio – economic growth. This should be done with the aim of raising the standards of living for these people, especially those of Merseyside. On the social impacts, the local people have shown an increase of interest in cultural activities and as a result almost all creative artists are local. These local artists account for 90 percent of the total number of artists that the city has, with only 10 percent coming from outside Liverpool (Landry, 2000, p. 72).

This city has an encouraging record when it comes to cultural innovation but it has a very long way to go because it still has the worst cases of inequalities in the entire UK. This seems to be getting some attention because in re-branding the city, an attempt has been made to address such inequalities as well as poverty and as a result multiculturalism as well as ethnic diversity has been adopted (Cheshire, 1990. p. 39). A god example of this inequality is the Somali community in the range of 2500-300 living in Liverpool and despite their continued stay they still can not speak, write or read English (Atkinson, 2003, pp 67-95).

This clearly is an indication that they have not been included in the council’s programmes and certainly something has to be done to bring them on board for purposes of cultural diversity. For a solution, the local council and the government should make it a priority to bring improvements that are sustainable and long term. This is a picture of the cultural aspects that shape the cultural and social landscape of the diverse people of the city of Liverpool. Liverpool is undergoing re-branding and therefore it needs to be on the watch out for contradictions that are likely to emerge.

These developments have not had much of a negative impact on the environment as pollution has been contained. The advantage is that the city has been cleaner than before, an effort that has been put so as to attract more investors and to promote tourism. Conclusion Future ECOC cities need to draw from the example of Liverpool and draw comparisons with the big success of Glasgow in order to draw realistic objectives for the development of their cities economically, culturally, socially and industrially.

This is the only way through which these cities can be sure of a future legacy. This formula has worked before and its implementation should not be very difficult if the objectives that they set are realistic. In drawing their objectives, future ECOC cities should thoroughly assess their potentials, weigh their options and get their priorities right to avoid some of the shortcomings that Liverpool has been experiencing as a result of emphasizing too much on some areas and giving others little attention. The environment should be a major consideration in policy-making.

The topic of environment has been the ‘Achilles heel’ of many industrialists and this signifies the importance it should be accorded. There should be regulations on how industrial waste should be disposed of in order to avoid polluting the environment, for the safety of all. The government must ensure that the city sustains this kind of industrial growth and increase its efforts towards the coexistence of the different communities for faster growth and development. The cities that aspire to be ECOC cities should do a lot especially in the areas of cultural diversity and regeneration so as to achieve this goal.

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