Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Taking Over The Reins

In the wake of the Matthew Street fiasco, it was inevitable that some changes, however cosmetic, would take place at the Culture Company.
Yet the brief handed to Phil Redmond (,,2167770,00.html ) seems to be a case of Harborrow et al throwing in the towel last week. The Guardian related that Redmond "hoped to give the programme more of a 'Liverpool-Scouse edge' by examining the city's Irish heritage and providing a 'cultural clearing project', where arts groups who made submissions for 2008 and felt they were ignored can resubmit their ideas. He also spoke of the open culture initiative, which will encourage people to engage in activities: 'I want people to know they don't have to have culture done to them--they can take part.'"
Redmond's words are welcome, but they come at the eleventh hour. Whatever takes shape in less than three months, the damage will have been done. The top-down approach of the Culture Company, though understandable in some respects [assigning as much importance to the RLPO as pop acts], was never going to enthuse those for whom 2008 could have formed part of a cultural & artistic learning curve.
[It's the sort of notion which usually draws snorts of derision, but there shouldn't be any barriers to a kid in Norris Green persuing an interest and/or career in classical music.]
In addition to Redmond's appointment, the board of the Liverpool Culture Company has been reduced in number from 25 to 6, a move which confirms the widespread suspicion that those nominally in charge under the Harborrow regime had the life of Riley.
Some of Redmond's suggestions are a little fanciful at this late stage (a "Liverpool song" to rival "Maggie May", "In My Liverpool Home", etc. in the city's affections & act as a contemporary anthem).
In a damning critique of the old regime, Redmond added, "The existing board system was bureaucratic, unwieldy and slow and it is time to move forward with a new slimmer board. It will mean I can pick up a telephone and we can make instant decisions rather than waiting for board meetings. We have gone from debating to delivering the programme.'"
That final sentence should make Harborrow, Bradley et al cringe in embarrassment.
There was also a nod to the city's outskirts, hitherto excluded from the 2008 events; Redmond made a point of mentioning Croxteth & Norris Green in this context, its significance in the wake of Rhys Jones' murder clear to all.
Drummond Bone, effectively ousted as Chairman of the Culture Company, put out a suitably sugared piece of PR bullshit, expressing support for Redmond & even agreeing with the reduction in the board's size. He said that "an appropriate structure" is needed for next year. Bit late with that one, mate!
Most of the programme already unveiled for 2008 does the job for the city, a mix of popular & "high" culture striking a fair balance.
Sticking out like a Sun reader on the Kop, however, is the WAG's fashion show in June,2008. Culture? My arse!
It may seem that I think Redmond is the ideal man for the job. I don't endorse the guy. Nor, however, do I dismiss him. After the farce of the last two months, a change was badly needed. Moreover, Redmond's track record in TV drama demonstrates his creative as well as administrative abilities; "Brookside" was never my sort of thing, but it was successfully produced, & it was popular.

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