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Can we afford Liverpool’s cultural heritage?

4 July 2013 by David Fleming

The landmark buildings on Liverpool's waterfront

Pier Head, part of Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage Site

I have been working this week on a Report for the Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Joe Anderson, on the city’s cultural heritage – the nature of it, the challenges, how to care for what we have, how to attract visitors to Liverpool, funding for the heritage itself etc etc. If the Report is any good, it will become a model in which other cities around the world will be very interested: the care and ‘use’ of our cultural heritage is a global issue, and the heritage sector has not been especially intelligent in explaining the whys and wherefores to sceptics, many of whom have a simple belief that looking after our cultural heritage is a luxury we cannot afford.

I have lost count of the number of times, for example, that Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage Site has been compared with the pyramids at Giza, or the Taj Mahal, or Stonehenge, when, of course, the issues are so utterly different, as are the solutions needed to ensure that Liverpool’s status is retained, and the WHS itself cherished as the remarkable evidence that it is of Liverpool’s greatness as a seaport; not to mention the WHS status being something that attracts high-spending visitors to the city, and thus helps create jobs.

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