Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fantasy & Reality

The Oldham Echo's willingness to feed on the ignorance of its readership is hardly new. However, tonight's puff piece possibly reaches a new low. More of that anon. However, a much-needed dose of reality regarding Liverpool's year of culture was to be found in today's Guardian ( ).
David Walker's piece looked at the long-term benefits of major cultural & sporting events in host cities. Walker's article began tellingly:
"It all began, it's said, in the departures lounge at Athens airport. Jack Lang and Melina Mercouri, the French and Greek ministers of culture, hit on the idea of an annual European cultural event, based in one or more cities. Whatever the genesis, the European capital of culture has added handily to the roster of big-ticket events for which cities avidly bid -- even though the evidence connecting such events to regeneration and aggregate welfare is incomplete and sometimes negative."
The fly in the ointment, Walker asserts, is that economic imperatives & regeneration projects only fleetingly coalesce. He quotes Luke Binns of the Dublin Institute of Technology as noting that "as companies have an ever growing list of cities to invest in, and only so much to invest, there will have to be winners and losers in interurban place marketing.
" 'Despite the impression given by some economic development agencies, cultural amenity provision doesn't figure at the top of companies' relocation priorities,' says Binns. 'The bubble bursting when the relatively easy quantifiable economic returns of investing in culture are shown not to be paying off raises the fear of disillusionment setting in and the consequent abandonment of cultural policies.' "
Walker looks at Liverpool's year of culture, commenting that the timing of Liverpool One's opening is "less than optimal".
That's quite an understatement, given the impending recession. In recent years Liverpool has seen a boom in the leisure & construction industries. No prizes for guessing which industries are the first to go to the wall when the economy goes pear-shaped.
Back to the comic, sorry, Echo. Tonight's edition contains a typical puff-piece by Neil Hodgson, its inane standard of journalism encapsulated in the gushing claim ( ):
"The £1bn city centre retail scheme, the biggest of its kind in Europe, appears to have bucked the doom and gloom on the high streets and financial markets."
Yes, I'm sure that once Wall Street hears about the retail units at Liverpool One opening, the banks will start lending to each other again; the "confidence" will return to the markets; the toxic sub-prime loan packages will suddenly lessen in danger; & the Dow Jones will quickly rise to the 13,000 mark again. Won't they?

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