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Liverpool hails its Capital of Culture year as an £800m economic boost

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Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture has boosted the regional economy by £800 million, according to the city’s culture chiefs.

The 12-month festival attracted 3.5 million first time visitors, and saw 15 million attendances to Liverpool’s arts venues and events. La Machine’s 50ft mechanical spider drew a crowd of 500,000 people, while the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse enjoyed a 22% increase in theatregoers and the Liverpool Philharmonic saw the number of attendees go up by 24%.

Figures announced yesterday at a review of the Capital of Culture year, which saw £4 billion invested into the physical transformation of the city, also revealed that it featured 60 world and European premieres, included the work of 10,000 artists, and involved 67,000 school children.

Television producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond, creative director of the Liverpool Culture Company, said the year had taken the city from “zero to hero”.

Redmond told The Stage: “What we really wanted to do was to remind people and reaffirm their belief in a city that has always been a cultural centre – not just the citizens of the city but also the world.

“The main challenge was to lift everyone’s eyes and stop them feeling depressed about the place and navel gazing, and get them to reach for the future.”

Meanwhile, Everyman and Playhouse artistic director Gemma Bodinetz believes the year has boosted producing theatre in the region, and has made it more appealing for well-known names to appear in productions in the city – such as Pete Postlethwaite who played the title role in the venue’s production of King Lear.

She added: “At the moment the economic climate hasn’t changed things. We don’t seem to be dividing audiences, we seem to be growing audiences. We have seen a 46% increase of audiences over the last three years. One of the really significant statistics is that 15% of our audiences comes from areas in Liverpool where people would not think of going to the theatre or can’t afford it. That feels really exciting to me.

“That’s partly because of our outreach work, but also by having someone like Pete Postlethwaite as King Lear, and Matthew Kelly in Endgame.”

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