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Culture celebrations begin, the Europe’s Other Capital of Culture and Liverpool’s many face-lifts

Capital of Culture Opening Ceremony
This Friday witnesses the People’s Opening of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture celebrations. Nigel Jamieson, artistic co-director for the event told icLiverpool: “It will be something those who go will remember for the rest of their lives.” With a mixture of established acts (Ringo Starr, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra) plus other special guests) and younger generation artists, the 40 minute show includes cranes (of course), aerial performers and extreme sports enthusiasts. “There will be people performing in spaces and on stages where you’d never imagine them to perform,” Jamieson said.

Related: Merseyside Police ban ’08 related holiday.

Banksy mural covered up –
A mural of a rat by renowned artist Banksy has had to be partially covered by hoarding as part of the ongoing effort to hide eyesores in the city during the Capital of Culture year. The Liverpool Culture Company said it had “no choice”, as the building on which it was painted – the White House pub at the junction of Berry and Duke Streets – is in such a state of disrepair. Interestingly, a different take can be found on the Liverpool Regional Development Agency website, which brands it a ‘dressing’ of the buildings, with six other ‘selected’ structures. This is the Look of the City project, an attempt to cover with artwork as many ugly buildings as possible, while increasing numbers of visitors wander around the town during the next twelve months.

Welcome to Stavanger
It’s not only Liverpool that’s enjoying a year as European Capital of Culture. The Norwegian city of Stavanger, on the south west coast is paired with the British city in holding the title for 2008. The town has a booming oil-related industry, and is well known, at least locally, for its large number of wooden buildings, and ‘Christmas card image’. It is already a wealthy place, and so their version of the event is less concerned with generating tourism and attracting business investment, and generates as much local cynicism as in Merseyside. Details at the BBC News website

Other news:

Garden Festival site ‘should be left wild‘;
The new St John’s Shopping Centre unveiled.

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