I wasn't entirely surprised by today's announcement by the Liverpool Culture Company (www.liverpool08.com/ ) that this year's Matthew Street Festival has been cancelled, less than a month before it was due to take place (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/6927448.stm ).
The city centre is currently in the throes of the "Big Dig" & the waterfront area (Pier Head) faces major building work as the Leeds to Lverpool canal is extended to the area as one of the developments for 2008. Last year's festival took place against the backdrop of the construction upheaval in its infancy. Road closures, building sites & diversions meant that it wasn't the smoothest Matthew Street Festival. Today's statement cited health & safety as the major concern.
However, the timing of the decision couldn't be worse. With the festival a little under three weeks away, it leaves no time for a Plan B (Sefton Park has been mooted as an overspill site, but it's surely too late to arrange that).
Amazingly, there was still no word of the cancellation on the Culture Company website this evening (these people are supposed to be among the best in the marketing business, but communication is an alien term to them).
The leader of the city council, Warren Bradley, was quick to distance himself from the decision (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/6928466.stm ), saying he was "adamant" that the festival could still take place. Optimism or covering your back, what do you think?
Liverpool Confidential's take on the story has an interesting twist:
"The council, in a statement, says: 'Staff worked right to the 11th hour to try and produce a workable plan which could accomodate the festival in the city centre.'
"Eleventh hour indeed. Just yesterday a tender document went out for PA and lighting companies to pitch for the festival, taking place in under four weeks time, with a deadline of today."
(http://www.liverpoolconfidential.com/index.asp?Sessionx=IpqiNwEiNw7jJaqiNwF6IHqi&realname= Matthew Street cancelled ).
Given that the city council & the Culture Company were supposed to be working in tandem, such chaos & disarray beggars belief.
Where's the Liverpool Subculture blog at a time like this? Well, "Tony Parrish" turns up on the comments section of the Liverpool Confidential webpage. His thoughts merit quoting at length:
"This almost makes me want to start the blog up again, so that I could tear these incompetent bastards apart. Heads SHOULD roll....The point is that this has been cancelled because of the money they have wasted on fools and fakes from outside. They have hired the outside consultants in at the lat minute to give the impression of independence, but they have stitched this decision up because they haven't got the dosh to run Matthew St. The Big Dig is not something new, nor is the Pier Head work=so they must therefore be monumentally incompetent for not realising months ago what the problems were."
He conludes by calling for action in stirring prose:
"They [The Culture Company] have thrown away the opportunity to make 2008 a defining moment in Liverpool's history and a genuine life-changing experience for Liverpool people. Tossers, they deserve all the aggro they will now undoubtedly get....Start a blog. Create a campaign. Organise and agitate. The city really deserves better than these shysters. HEADS MUST ROLL...."
Well said, Tony, but this is the time to resurrect your own blog.
My own reservations about the Matthew Street Festival (too many "tribute" bands, not enough contemporary Liverpool acts & the need to make it a modern music festival which takes the Beatles' legacy as a starting point in highlighting today's scene) have been made more than once to various figures in today's Liverpool's music scene. However, this news makes me realise just how strong a brand (& for once I don't blanche from using a marketing term) the Matthew Street Festival actually is. I've mentioned it in emails to acquaintances across the Atlantic. I owe it to them to highlight the farce which has culminated in today's news.
I read the news today, oh boy indeed.