The title of Liverpool City Region Borough of Culture has been officially handed on to Knowsley after a successful year of cultural engagement, exhibitions and activity in Halton.
The accolade was passed over during Halton’s finale event, Light! at Norton Priory this weekend. It’s the first time in two years that the Borough of Culture title – symbolised by the Emma Roger’s sculpture created during Wirral’s year in 2019 – has been handed over in person due to COVID restrictions.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram introduced the Borough of Culture initiative in 2018, as part of the Combined Authority’s ‘1% for Culture’ programme, which commits to invest 1% of the annual budget directly in culture and creativity. The title rotates around the six areas that make up the Liverpool City Region, showcasing the unique cultural attractions and identities in each part of our region, and how they merge together.
Mayor Rotheram said:
“The Liverpool City Region’s world-class cultural offering is one of our great strengths and, when I was elected, I established Borough of Culture to showcase what makes each part of our region so unique.
“Over the last year, Halton has risen to the challenge of delivering Borough of Culture during some exceptionally difficult circumstances given the pandemic. Looking forward to 2022, I’ve been really excited by the enthusiasm and imagination shown by Knowsley in putting together their calendar of events. From the opening of The Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot, to the series of fantastic exhibitions and performances, I’ve got no doubt that it will be a year to remember.”
Co-Chair of the Cultural Partnership Maggie O’Carroll said:
“As Halton’s Borough of Culture year draws to a close, I really can’t express enough how impressed I have been to see the many ways in which businesses have adapted to survive the ongoing impact of COVID-19.This ability to acclimatise and innovate is one of the true hallmarks of a successful business.
“Halton has managed to enrich the lives of its residents in so many different ways, not least through its cultural partnerships and combined efforts with the Borough of Culture. I am very much looking forward to supporting Knowsley as they take the mantle and excited to see them bring to fruition their plans for 2022.”
Sir Phil Redmond Co-Chair of the Cultural Partnership said:
“The idea behind the rotational award was to encourage creative talent, showcase the cultural offerings and stimulate internal tourism across the region. The award now moves from Norton Priory to Knowsley, where the opening of The Shakespeare North Playhouse will extend the range and depth of cultural attractions available in all the Boroughs.
“Just as Halton has raised the bar in terms of creativity, ingenuity and perseverance, I have no doubt that Knowsley will set a new benchmark for the next rotational round beginning in 2023. And look forward to seeing what Halton will do again in 2026!”
Halton celebrated some incredible events during 2021, including Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon and the larger-than-life light installations along Norton Priory’s woodland trail at Light!
Councillor Mike Wharton, Leader of Halton Council and the Combined Authority’s Portfolio Holder for Culture, Tourism and The Visitor Economy said:
“We have thoroughly enjoyed hosting our Borough of Culture year. While some events sadly had to be cancelled due to changing COVID restrictions, we found new ways of engaging with our residents and developing and showcasing the creative talents of our communities.
“Our ‘Made in Halton’ grants funded outdoor theatre, a radio station, comedy nights and art workshops for the LGBTQ+ community and we were delighted to welcome the work of Luke Jerram and the Liverpool Lantern Company with Wales-based AndNow later in the year.
“Halton has been alive with creativity and I hope Knowsley enjoy their Borough of Culture year as much as we have.”
Knowsley is also featuring Luke Jerram as part of a dramatic and illuminating start to 2022. ‘Gaia’ – the 6-metre-wide replica of the earth, which is based on imagery and data from NASA – will be coming to St. Chad’s in Kirkby along with a series of other lighting installations and events across Knowsley in January and February.
With a borough wide sculpture trail planned, Masterpiece exhibition and a mass participation celebration of sport there is a great deal to look forward to. And of course, everyone is waiting for the opening of the landmark Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot. The multi-million pound arts venue will open to the public in the summer of 2022 and is a key highlight of the Borough’s celebrations.
Councillor Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Borough Council said:
“Our Borough of Culture year could not come at a better time with the opening of The Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot. But I’m keen to stress that culture isn’t just about theatre or art but is about how people live their lives, what enriches and excites us, and what makes Knowsley the place it is.
“From community activity to large scale attractions we’re hoping to provide something for everyone to enjoy and not just for Knowsley residents but for everyone in the City Region and beyond. And with some really special and surprising moments planned we are sure that this will be something that people will be talking about for many years to come.”
The full programme for 2022 is currently being finalised but to find out more, get involved and be notified of future events, follow @CultureKnowsley on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and visit www.cultureknowsley.co.uk