Communities and Local Government CommitteeWritten evidence from the Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust

Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust is a major performing arts organisation running the Liverpool Playhouse and Everyman theatres. The over-arching mission is to create theatre of the highest quality which is firmly rooted in our community, yet both national and international in scope and ambition. An integrated programme across the two buildings has generated critical acclaim and audience growth and has been the springboard for forward-looking programmes of artist development and youth and community engagement.

The Everyman is a converted chapel built in the 1830s, extensively modified since and no longer fit for service so demolition has just begun to make way for a new Everyman on an extended site, which will offer a much more adaptable and safe main performance space, a youth and community studio, rehearsal and technical spaces and 21st century facilities for artists, audiences and public use. The redevelopment of the Everyman has taken eleven years to get on site, much of that time taken by the need to convince funding bodies of the value of theatre and the performing arts to the lives of the local community, attracting visitors and the regeneration of the Liverpool City Region. That task was made considerably easier by the success of the European Capital of Culture in 2008. Extensive studies of its effects have been made and are documented in Creating an Impact: Liverpool’s experience as European Capital of Culture. There is now a new understanding and appreciation of the value of the arts and culture by the local authority, other public bodies and private partners. Culture is now a cornerstone of the strategy for the improvement of the city. Liverpool City Council Leader, Cllr Joe Anderson, has endorsed the new Everyman describing it as “a vital redevelopment for the City’s future”.

At the launch of It’s Liverpool on 8 September Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries said “In my first year as Minister for Culture, I have visited Liverpool more than any other UK city, and these visits have largely been a result of its wonderful cultural offer. Not only can Liverpool boast a world class gallery in the Tate, it also houses a number of excellent museums and a hugely respected contemporary art biennial. The newly refurbished Everyman will be a freshly polished jewel in an already impressive cultural crown.

“A great cultural offer not only gives any city a sense of identity, it also helps to make it a much more attractive proposition in which to live, work and study.”

We believe that the life of a city or region is vastly enriched in all ways by a strong arts and cultural sector and that provision of suitable buildings should be a basic requirement recognised by all involved in planning the built environment. Therefore we urge the committee to ensure that culture, the arts and theatres are explicitly recognised alongside leisure, sport and heritage in the National Planning Policy Framework and we fully endorse the comments on the committee’s specific questions and the NPPF generally as expressed by The Theatres Trust in their response dated 5 September 2011.

September 2011

Prepared 20th December 2011