Msc international events management assessment case study module: making the case for events

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Evaluating and Monitoring the Impact upon Hosts – Liverpool as European Capital of Culture 08




  1. Focus of the Case Study

  2. Introduction

  3. Liverpool’s History

  4. Modern Day Liverpool

  5. European Capital of Culture

  6. Liverpool’s Winning Bid

  7. The Perceived Legacies of Mega-Events

  8. Evaluating and Monitoring Impacts

  9. Impact Claims

  10. Teaching Case Study Questions

  11. Key Images

  12. Resources

  13. References

  14. Appendices

  15. Endnotes

Focus of the Case Study

To examine Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture (ECOC) in 2008, focusing on the bidding process, the impacts of hosting, and how these are evaluated and monitored.


2008 saw Liverpool as the first English city to become ECOC, a period in which over 350 events showcased the city’s cultural life and cultural development. After the year was announced in 2003, Liverpool City Council set up the Liverpool Culture Company to deliver the event, and they set their objectives as:

  1. To create and present the best local, national and international arts and events in all genres

  2. To build community enthusiasm, creativity and participation

  3. Maintain, enhance and grow the cultural infrastructure of the city

  4. To increase the levels of visitors and inward investment in the city

  5. To reposition Liverpool as a world-class city by 2008

  6. To provide efficient and effective management of the Liverpool Culture Companyi

The purpose of this case study is to examine the actual impacts that Liverpool ECOC 08 had on the city, and in particular how these impacts were monitored and evaluated. To do so it will first provide a historical overview and modern day context of Liverpool, before explaining the significance of the European Capital of Culture in general. Liverpool’s successful bid to host in 2008 will be briefly addressed, as will the perceived legacies of such events in general. The case study will then move on to look at key sections, namely the impact of ECOC on Liverpool, and the monitoring and evaluation of these impacts before, during and after 2008.



iiLiverpool’s history can be traced back to the 12th century, although the Borough of Liverpool is commonly thought to have been created on 28 August 1207 by King John, and the first reference to the city on a map of Britain occurred in 1331. The growth of Liverpool was slow; by 1565 there was a population of around 690, and it was still considered a small and unimportant settlement. The growth in trade from America and the West Indies in the mid-17th century helped accelerate the progress of both population and commerce, and in 1700 Liverpool acquired its own Customs House giving it control over its own trading affairs. This was a fundamental step into becoming a major port; the development of a dock system was soon to follow. The 18th century was indeed a time a rapid expansion; in 1707 Liverpool had a population of 20,000 and 102 ships were using the ports; by 1806 the population had increased to 80,000 and the docks were now used by nearly 5,000 ships.

Related to this expansion was Liverpool’s involvement in the slave trade, as by the close of the 18th century 40% of the world's, and 80% of Britain's Atlantic slave activity was accounted for by slave ships that voyaged from the docks at Liverpool. Liverpool's black community dates from the building of the first dock in 1715 and grew rapidly, reaching a population of 10,000 within five years. When the East India Company’s monopoly of trade with India (and later China) was abolished in 1813, further economic expansion was developed as trade with the Far East opened up. The Irish famine of 1845-49 saw a major influx of Irish migrants, although the majority migrated to America, and a steady stream of Welsh migrants added at least 20,000 to Liverpool’s population every decade from 1851 to 1911.

Liverpool continued to expand, and in 1880 was granted city status, and by 1901 the population had grown close to 700,000iii, with immigrants from Europe contributing to the city’s burgeoning population. The early 20th century can be seen as the pinnacle of Liverpool’s economic success, and the population peaked at 850,000 in the 1930s. However, Liverpool depended a disproportionate amount on shipping, and falls in world demand for the north west's traditional export commodities contributed to stagnation and decline in the city. After WWII, declines in manufacturing and dock activity struck the city hard, and by 1985 the population had fallen to 460,000. The city’s decline is further highlighted by the fact that between 1971 and 1996 Liverpool lost 192,000 jobs, representing a 53% decline in total employmentiv.
In the late 1980s Liverpool was placed 114th in a ranking of the economic performance of 117 principal city-regions in the European communityv, and the gap between local economic performance and trends at a national level continued to widen. The city’s situation in the latter half of the 20th century is perhaps best encapsulated by a Daily Mirror comment in 1982 that “They should build a fence around (Liverpool) and charge admission, for sadly it has become a showcase of everything that has gone wrong in Britain’s major cities”vi. However, from the late 1990s onwards this situation began to change
Modern Day Liverpool
The late 1990s saw a marked improvement on many fronts for Liverpool. From 1995-99, total employment grew by 10.4%, (above the national average), and tourist visits grew sharply, with visitor spending almost doubling from £335M to £604M between 1990 and 2000, and Liverpool’s economy has grown significantly during the 2000svii. Jones and Wilks-Heeg (2004) point out that “a flood of policy documents and initiatives confirm the clear shift towards urban entrepreneurialism since the late 1990s. Aside from the successful Capital of Culture bid, these have included: the establishment of Liverpool Vision, the country’s first Urban Regeneration Company, to direct regeneration activity in the city centre; the complete transfer of Liverpool Airport to private sector control; ambitious plans for a ‘Fourth Grace’ on the Liverpool waterfront (subsequently dropped); proposals for the UK’s largest retail scheme, demarcated by the Paradise Street Development Area; and plans for the re-development of the Kings Dock”viii. Boland (2008), when discussing modern Liverpool, describes it in the following way: “It is a city that is being re-positioned (as a ‘World Class City’) and re-branded (as ‘The World In One City’), and the official rhetoric claims it is now a city of culture, creativity and competitiveness”ix.
However, problems still persist. In 2008, the Health Is Wealth Commission, after investigating health-related and economic issues across the Liverpool City region, reported that “A growing problem with alcohol misuse, disproportionate levels of benefit dependency and huge inequalities in terms of health, education and living standards emerged as areas of particular concern”x. Despite this, there are also many plus points, for example a major physical transformation in the city, particularly reliant on public sector policy, which in turn helped set the stage for private sector developers to create residential apartments from warehouses, lofts and old office buildingsxi. An increase in employment (particularly driven by the services sector in the early part of the 2000s) and slowing down of population loss at the start of the 21st century are also indicators of an upward trend for Liverpoolxii
European Capital of Culture

The European Capital of Culture (ECOC), (originally called ‘European City of Culture’), was first awarded to Athens in 1985, and according to the European Commission “is a golden opportunity to show off Europe's cultural richness and diversity, and all the ties which link us together as Europeans. The event is so attractive that Europe's cities vie with each other fiercely for the honour of bearing the title”xiii. Garcia (2004) suggests that when first conceived in 1983 by Melina Mercouri, the Greek minister for culture, “the purpose of the programme was to give a cultural dimension to the work of the European Community at a time when it did not have a defined remit for cultural action, and to celebrate European culture as a means of drawing the community closer together”xiv. The first cities to hold the title, Athens, Florence, Amsterdam, West Berlin and Paris, cities who it could be argued were already major European cultural centres, all celebrated the year as a marker of their already apparent cultural importance, and it was selection of Glasgow as 1990 ECOC that marked a radical change in orientation. Rather than celebrate a supposed established cultural importance, Glasgow used the year to accelerate culture-led urban regeneration, resulting in claims that the City’s national and international reputation had been enhanced, throwing of its image as a place of grim urban decay, poverty, violence and industrial unrestxv. However, it should be noted that while ‘doing a Glasgow’ has now become a recurring theme in discussions of urban cultural policy and place marketing in many of Europe’s older industrial citiesxvi, some (Mooney 2002, Macleod 2002) have questioned whether Glasgow’s year as ECOC had as positive an impact as it is perceived to.

Glasgow’s year as ECOC is not only said to have changed perceptions of the city, but also of the ECOC programme. Many of the cities that have been awarded the ECOC have been declining industrial centres without a major cultural reputation, such as Antwerp (1993), Rotterdam (2001) and Lille (2004)xvii. Nominated cities have also become more ambitious with their proposals, shifting towards an urban regeneration agenda. However, there is no formal monitoring mechanism in place, and as such, information about ECOC relies very much on the host cities’ willingness to produce reports, which often end up as merely promotional devices, celebrating the successes of the year rather than analysing the experience and recognising limitations or failures. Garcia (2004) argues that “the resulting effect is the creation of virtually unquestioned ‘myths’ about the value of hosting the title, which cover up the lack of serious attempts to learn lessons from the experience and establish replicable models of successful and, most importantly, sustainable culture-led regeneration”xviii .
Liverpool’s Winning Bid

Liverpool won the title of ECOC in 2003, seeing off competition from Newcastle-Gateshead (the bookies’ favourite), Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff and Oxford. The competition was a two stage process, with the contending cities addressing a series of questions about their plans, and the thinking behind them. From the outset the City Council played a leading role in the bid, immediately throwing its weight behind it, and a new body, the Liverpool Culture Company, was set up to organise the bid, led by Sir Bob Scott. The bid also had strong regional backing and was able to draw upon the fierce civic loyalty of the local population that as Griffiths puts it “felt disregarded, disadvantaged and misunderstood by the country at large”xix.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell called Liverpool’s “the most vital, energetic bid”xx, and in the opinion of the chairman of the judges’ panel, the bid had a “greater sense… that the whole city is involved in the bid and behind the bid”xxi. Rival explanations for what was widely seen as surprise victory also exist. The ‘Glasgow effect’ of using the ECOC award as a central plank of a wider project of urban renaissance has been claimed by some to have given the Liverpool bid a boost, as it was seen as the city most likely to replicate this. Jones and Wilks-Heeg (2004) point out that “the headline forecasts, buried deep in the section on tourism in the main bid document, but appearing in the first lines of most media reports, were that Liverpool ECOC 2008 would result in 12,000 new jobs, double annual visitor numbers to 38 million and generate £2 billion of additional spending in the local economy as a result”xxii.
The Perceived Legacies of Special Events

Often, one of the key goals for a nation/region/city hosting a mega-event is to provide a legacy for the host population. For example, London has built long term legacy into its planning for the 2012 Olympics, and indeed this is now a requirement set by International Olympic Committeexxiii. Different areas that hosts look to leave a legacy in include social, cultural, environmental, economic, growth and infrastructurexxiv, but the specific legacy that is aimed for differs from city to city and also depends on both the size and nature of the event. For example, hosts of the Olympic Games, possibly the biggest mega-event around, often aim high. Atlanta (1996 Olympic Host) wanted to leave the legacy of a world class tourist and conference city, major redevelopments of downtown Atlanta, and significant, long lasting benefits to local residentsxxv. Smaller events obviously lead to less ambitious objectives, as in the case of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2008 in Chile. Among the objectives that the president of the Chilean Professional Football Association set out was an improvement in training facilities and stadia, and perhaps most importantly proving that Chile is capable of hosting other events in the futurexxvi.

It must be noted, however, that the legacies that are sought, and the realities that emerge from hosting a large event often greatly differ. Horne (2007) in talking about the four ‘Knowns’ of mega-events1, claims that “‘legacies’ – whether social, cultural, environmental, political, economic or sporting – are the ‘known unknowns’ of sports mega-events”xxvii, arguing that it seems evident (known) that forecasts are almost always wrong, and that the gap between the forecast and actual impacts on economy, society and culture are a major concern in consideration of sports mega-events. Examples include the 1992 (Barcelona) and 2000 (Sydney) Olympic Games, often cited as exemplary Games, but whose expected legacies were questioned, especially with regard to the actual distribution of the social and economic benefits and opportunity costs of hosting the Gamesxxviii.
Evaluating and Monitoring Impacts

As mentioned above, much information about the impacts of hosting the ECOC relies on the host’s willingness to produce reports. With regard to Liverpool, a research collaboration was set up, first of all with the aim of identifying indicators that appropriately measured relevant areas impacted upon. Also key to the research was the establishment of what the Impacts 08 team call ‘The Liverpool Model’, an attempt to provide a universal framework for evaluating the multiple impacts of culture-led regeneration programmes. Thus far two major annual reports, Baseline Report 2006/07 in March 2007 and the Benchmark Indicators report in December 2008, have been published. In addition to these there have been a number of projects undertaken, organised within four relevant thematic clusters – economic impacts and processes; cultural access and participation; image and identity; and philosophy and management of the process.

In its own words “Impacts 08 – The Liverpool Model, is a joint research initiative of the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, which evaluates the social, cultural, economic and environmental effects of Liverpool’s hosting the European Capital of Culture title in 2008.  The research programme, commissioned by Liverpool City Council, examines the progress and impact of this experience on the city and its people.  The aim of Impacts 08 is to develop a research model for evaluating the multiple impacts of culture-led regeneration programmes that can be applied to events across the UK and beyond”xxix.

The team proposed the following main methodologies within their research strands:

  • In-depth interviews with key stakeholders in the ideas and development of the European Capital of Culture 2008, from public, private and community sectors and from policy, culture and regeneration backgrounds.

  • An ongoing media impact analysis exploring the change in reporting on Liverpool over time, from 1996 – 2010.

  • An ongoing business impact analysis mapping changes in Liverpool, the region (Merseyside) and comparatively with the rest of England North West from 2000 – 2010.

  • Local Area Studies focussing on experiences of local people in selected areas of Liverpool using mainly qualitative longitudinal techniques.

  • Annually selected ‘special projects’ to explore diverse themes and issues that arise over the period of the research.

  • Regular assessment of secondary key data collected by Liverpool City Council and the Culture Company, as well as data from external sources in the region and the rest of the

The Impacts 08 team also stressed that local, national and international researchers were included in the process to maximise the quality and range of what was produced.

Findings Regarding the Evaluation and Monitoring of Economic Impacts

In terms of assessing the economic impact of Liverpool 2008, the research team put forward the following recommendations to make up part of ‘The Liverpool Model’:

  • Development of an Input-Output model based on the review findings to provide statistically legitimate estimates of multipliers which take into account the full impact of investments in cultural and related initiatives.

  • This model will be supported by range of data to be gathered from a variety of sources, including surveys of institutions, consumers and from existing central sources of statistics.

  • The economic impact assessment should take part alongside other measures of impact as part of a full evaluation, in order to support valuation of “intangible benefits”.

Liverpool 08 - Impact Claims

This section will highlight the main findings that Impact 08’s research has so far presented. In doing so it will chronologically look at the major reports produced by the Impacts 08 team, starting with the benchmarks set out as baseline indicators for the research, then moving on to the most up to date findings.

Research Findings Highlights

Baseline Report 06/07

March 2007 saw the publication of a Baseline Report 06/07 by the Impacts 08 research team, which focussed on the main outcomes of the first year of research, and established the baseline against which impacts would be measured. In terms of economic impacts, economic growth was seen in a positive light, but Liverpool’s low employment rate was also noted. Business sustainability and visitor expenditure were said to be increasing, while Liverpool was now seen as a leisure holiday destination rather than a shopping destination or place to visit family and friends. Culturally, growth in the ‘creative industries sector’, rising employment in the ‘visitor infrastructure’ (encompassing hotels, restaurants, bars, etc.), positive perceptions of Liverpool’s cultural system and a remarkable growth in employment in the area architecture and engineering consultancy (linked to the growth in construction/capital developments) were noted.

2005/06 saw a significantly greater number of events and performances funded by or directly organised by Liverpool Culture Company than occurred in Lille (2004) during its year as ECOC. The baseline report also stated that nomination as ECOC had had some short to medium term impact on the city’s image, as in 2003 there were four times as many positive stories about Liverpool’s culture and arts scene in national newspapers than was the case in 1996, while local level press coverage was said to have been very positive as well. With regard to physical infrastructure, Liverpool was seen to be undergoing an intense period of physical development activity, with people associating this to ECOC. Parking was identified as a problem area, as was street cleanliness, although the latter was seen as improving by both locals and tourists.

Benchmark Indicators Report

In December 2008 a Benchmark Indicators paper was published, looking at 6 main areas: economic impacts; the city’s cultural system; cultural access and participation; image, identity and sense of place; physical infrastructure and sustainability; and philosophy and management of the process. In economic terms, up until 2006 Liverpool still lagged behind the UK national average in a number of areas. The number of jobs in retail and in tourism (two sectors potentially associated with ECOC impact), was shown not to have increased between 200 and 2007, but to have in fact decreased, out of line with a general increase in employment in these areas in the UK as a whole. When looking at the impact of the ECOC on visitor figures, early results taken from January to April 2008 were positive.

In looking at the cities cultural system, it was noted that the size of the creative industry sector is difficult to estimate, but it could be said that Liverpool’s CI employment volume fell well below the national average, and that there was little evidence for claims that the sector is central to employment growth in Liverpool. Content analysis of the national press showed that there was a significant increase in coverage of Liverpool’s cultural system, with 25% more culture stories in 2007 than in 2003. ECOC events in particular have had a remarkable rise in positive coverage, as while in 2006 only 21% of national press reviews about the ECOC artistic programme were either neutral or positive; in 2007 this rises to 83%.

The paper also looked at cultural access and participation, and noted that the Culture Company, between 2004 and the end of 2007 had presented a large number of events, with a combined audience size of 2.7M in 2007. The number of events held in relation to ECOC obviously rose dramatically in 2008, while an interest in culture in general amongst the city’s population increased year on year between 2005 and 2007. In all, interest in culture amongst Liverpool’s population was said to be very high, with participation in cultural activities measured as being well above the national average.

Image, identity and sense of place looked at, amongst other areas, the economic value of media coverage about Liverpool in general and about the ECOC in particular. Most interestingly, the value of positive press and broadcast coverage of ECOC and of Liverpool culture was estimated to have risen from around £7M in 2005, to over £40M in 2007. In terms of people out-with the North West region, perceptions of Liverpool were said to fairly positive, but areas such as crime and decay/decline were noted by the team as negatively perceived in relation to Liverpool.

The physical infrastructure and sustainability section found that between 2000 and 2007 around 250 multi-million pound major developments were completed in Liverpool City Centre, with an estimated value of at least £1.8 billion (a further £1.5 billion worth of developments were due to be completed in 2008 alone). The philosophy and management of the process section looked at income and expenditure, showing a total operating budget of £109.4M (higher than any previous ECOC), and that over half of total income had come from contributions from Liverpool City Council, compared with the 30% that the City of Lille contributed to Lille’s ECOC total income. Interestingly, this section also looks at Liverpool residents’ perceptions of the event, and finds between 2005 and 2007 a generally negative trend in perceptions of the breadth of benefits of the ECOC to the wider population. The report ends by stating that:

“Several of the areas presented in this report will be expanded when the Impacts 08 team come to reflect upon the impacts of the ECoC year itself, as some indicators are not applicable prior to 2008. With data gathered during 2008 it will be possible to establish a more direct comparison with indicators from previous ECoC host cities, which have only assessed data emerging from the event year itself (in contrast demonstrating a strength of Liverpool 08). In 2008, Impacts 08 will also use the Core Cities and the Cities of Culture Networks as comparisons to assess economic impact and continue to track regional impacts at North West level”xxxi.

Case Study Questions

You are required to produce two short essays, of 2000 words each (max) drawing on the Liverpool 08 case study content and other lecture/reading materials which you have been exposed to during the Making the Case for Events module. Each answer is worth equal marks.

The essay answers should be presented in ONE document and should have separate reference lists for each question at the end of the text. You should use the Harvard referencing style in the preparation of your submission.
As the summative assessment, and in accordance with the assessment guidelines (see module handbook), students should complete the following questions. Please email your submission to by 5pm on Thursday 27th May 2010.

    1. “The key to our success was convincing the panel they were awarding a scholarship, not a reward” (Bob Scott, Liverpool 08)

Drawing upon the Liverpool 08 case study and relevant theoretical literature, critically discuss the extent to which peripatetic event bidding processes are increasingly centred on an instrumental logic based around the creation of ‘legacy’.

    1. Drawing upon the case study and appropriate theoretical perspectives, critically discuss the importance of the ‘Liverpool Model’ for cultural event evaluation now, and in the future.

Alternative to Q1?
“The key to our success was convincing the panel they were awarding a scholarship, not a reward” (Bob Scott, Liverpool 08)

Drawing upon the Liverpool 08 case study and relevant theoretical literature, critically discuss the extent to which bids for peripatetic events increasingly employ narrative strategies to compliment technical competencies in their bidding procedures.

Key Images 08 opening show 11 january 2008 anglican cathedral

liverpool poster


Impacts 08 - The Liverpool Model: European Capital of Culture Research Programme: Baseline Report 2006/07

Impacts 08 Benchmark Indicators
Considering the Economic Impacts of the 2008 European Capital of Culture: A Review on the Literature Concerning “Economic Multiplier” Effects (all three available at
European Commission Culture Page -
Impacts 08 – European Capital of Culture Research Programme -


Andronovich, G. Burbank, M. & Heying, C (2001) Olympic Cities: Lessons Learned from Mega-Event Politics. Journal of Urban Affairs, 23 (2), pp.113-131.

AT Kearney (2005) Building a Legacy: Sports Mega Events Should Last a Lifetime.

Boland, P (2008) The construction of images of people and place: Labelling Liverpool and stereotyping Scousers. Cities. 25 (6), pp.355-369.

Cheshire, P. (1990) Explaining the Recent Performance of the European Community’s Major Urban Regions, Urban Studies, 27 (3), pp.311-333.

Farrer, W. &Brownbill, J 'Liverpool: Trade, population and geographical growth', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4 (1911), pp. 37-38.

García, B. (2004) 'Cultural policy and urban regeneration in Western European cities: lessons from experience,

prospects for the future', Local Economy,19 (4), pp.312 – 326.

Griffiths, R. (2006) 'City/culture discourses: Evidence from the competition to select the European capital of culture

2008', European Planning Studies,14(4), pp.415 – 430.

Health is Wealth Commission (2008) The Liverpool City-Region. A Report for Discussion. -
Horne, J. (2007) The Four ‘Knowns’ of Sports Mega-Events. Leisure Studies. 26 (1), pp.81-96.
Jones, P. and Wilks-Heeg, S. (2004) 'Capitalising culture: Liverpool 2008', Local Economy, 19 (4), pp.341-360.

MacLeod, G. (2002) From urban entrepreneurialism to a ‘revanchist’ city? On the spatial injustices of Glasgow’s renaissance, Antipode, 34(3), pp. 602–624.

Mooney, G. (2004) Cultural Policy as Urban Transformation? Critical Reflections on Glasgow, European City of Culture 1990. Local Economy, 19 (4), pp.327-340.
Munck, R (ed.) (2003) Re-Inventing the City? : Liverpool in Comparative Perspective (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press)
Lane, T. (1997) Liverpool City of the Sea (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press).

World Congress of Metropolis (2008) Connecting Cities: Mega Event Cities. A Publication for the 9th World Congress of Metropolis.

1 In this article Horne relates to an article by Zizek, ‘The Empty Wheelbarrow’, based on former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s attempt at amateur philosophy. Available at,,1417982,00.html

 Liverpool 08 website -

ii Majority of historical information from Liverpool History Online -

iii Farrer, W. &Brownbill, J, p.38

iv Jones & Wilks-Heeg, p.344

v Cheshire, p.316

vi Daily Mirror, 11 October 1982, cited in Lane, 1997, p. xiii

vii Jones & Wilks-Heeg, p.346

viii Ibid

ix Boland, p.357

x Health Is Wealth Commission, p.60

xi Meegan, in Munck, p.66

xii Ibid, p.67


xiv Garcia, p.318

xv Mooney, p.329

xvi Ibid, p.328

xvii Griffiths, p418

xviii Garcia, p.321

xix Griffiths, p.422



xxii Jones & Wilks-Heeg, p.342

xxiii Connecting Cities, p.15

xxiv AT Kearney, p.2

xxv Andranovich et al. p.119


xxvii Horne, p.86

xxviii Ibid, p.85



xxxi Impacts 08 Benchmark Indicators, p.19

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