Commissioned by parkingspace gallery & North West Arts Free Market, St Johnís Market, The Independant, Liverpool Biennial, UK 13 Sept - 14 Oct 2002

What is the European Capital of Culture 2008?

We wanted to find out what the European Capital of Culture 2008 competition was, how each city would interpret the word ‘culture’ and how visual art was to function within their strategy. Our ‘action’ was to journey around the UK visiting the 12 cities competing for the title Capital of Culture 2008. Following on the heels of the official judges we experienced for ourselves each city and its culture, meeting people from the visual arts communities and recording our impressions. The competition is a form of culture led regeneration. The aim is to kick start the local economy. By developing and then marketing a contemporary identity or brand for itself the city aims to generate economic growth from companies bringing inward investment and tourist cash. No doubt that the city needs a boost; jobs and an improved environment would be on most peoples wish list. But how can culture be the answer to complex economic and social conditions? The arts are an essential component within these strategies; highbrow or popular they symbolise a sophisticated and confident city. They are cool and are to be promoted as such. Each city hires marketeers to use words and images to paint a glowing and untroubled picture of the future.

Description of Work

Birmingham - Cardiff - Bristol - Liverpool - Belfast - Oxford - Brighton - Canterbury - Norwich - Bradford - Newcastle - Inverness

The final work WINNER comprised of an image of the council chamber from each of the cities competing for CC2008. The Council Chamber was selected as it represented the headquarters for political discourse; grand ceremonial architecture, each one regaled in decoration depicting the economic and political ambition of its ruling elite.

Twelve A1 images where presented on a billboard in a former market stall at the disused St. Johns Market. On the corner of each image was placed the betting odds (c/o bookmakers William Hill) for the outcome of the competition, evidence of the speculation surrounding the event. WINNER is part of Sheffield's not (S'not), a project exploring culture led regeneration and is based in Sheffield, one of 54 UK cities not entering the competition. An open event S'not will be celebrating with a series of underfunded and politically challenging events until the announcement of the Winner of UK's European Capital of Culture in March 2003.

What is culture anyway? Everything!! essay by Lucy Byatt (download pdf , 32kb)

© 2005 Hewitt & Jordan