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On International Women’s Day find out more about the woman who brought Eurovision to Liverpool

1 year ago

On International Women’s Day find out more about the woman who brought Eurovision to Liverpool
Picture - Liverpool City Council

Claire McColgan is Director of Culture Liverpool and has been involved with everything from Capital of Culture to Eurovision, and on International Women’s Day we thought we would celebrate her amazing work for the city.

With the final now sold out, and details of the first events revealed, the countdown to Eurovision in Liverpool is really on now.

And for one woman that means not only all the excitement and fun that everyone else gets to experience, but the phenomenal job of bringing every idea to life.

Director of Culture Liverpool Claire McColgan drove the bid that beat Glasgow back in October 2022, after going head-to-head with other cities around the UK for the chance to host on behalf of Ukraine.

In the five months since then she’s been leading a small dedicated team that’s worked – and still is working – day and night to deliver a programme of events around the contest that’s set to be one of the most incredible Liverpool’s ever seen.

Definitely the biggest, in fact, since we were Capital of Culture in 2008 – which was also the first major milestone in Claire’s long list of achievements here.

Although she’s made Liverpool her home, and she’s a passionate champion of the city, Claire isn’t actually a native Scouser. Originally from Corby in Northamptonshire, she joined the city council more than two decades ago to spearhead our successful bid for Capital of Culture.

Over the past 20-plus years, she’s been behind a whole range of events that have brought Liverpool national and international attention for all the right reasons.

They include three Giants spectaculars which attracted total crowds of almost two million, the Three Queens on the Mersey, LIMF and the Mersey River Festival, as well as two Reds homecoming parades – the Champions League one in 2019 had around 750,000 fans on the streets, lining the route.

And her role isn’t all about big-scale award-winning culture celebrations, she’s also responsible for Liverpool Film Office, Cruise Liverpool and Tourism, and a brief to improve neighbourhoods saw her instigate the first underground bins in the country here in the city.

In 2009 Claire was awarded the MBE for services to culture and arts in Liverpool, and on the last day of February this year she received a CBE from Princess Anne in a ceremony at Windsor Castle.

The following day, she was back at the Arena to reveal the first elements of a two-week cultural festival, EuroFest, taking over Liverpool in the run-up to Eurovision from May 1 to 14.

The festival will present 24 brand new commissions, 19 of which are partnerships between UK and Ukrainian artists, that will transform the city as fans from across the world descend on Liverpool.

Claire McColgan
Picture – Liverpool City Council

With just over two months to go before it all happens, and the final goes out to a global audience of 160million people, Claire feels very strongly that Eurovision should involve and include as many people as possible, whether they’re diehard contest fans or not. 

“Culture Liverpool isn’t the host, the city is the host,” she says.  “We’re really lucky, you don’t get to host things like this very often. We’ll never do it again so we’ve got to enjoy every second of it.”

The feelgood factor that Claire and her team are focused on creating won’t just be for those weeks leading up to the main event either. She’s confident it will go on long after the winner’s been announced, and that’s her other priority – ensuring a lasting legacy for the city in return for what’s been a huge collaborative effort, not just within Liverpool and the rest of the country, but with Ukraine too.

“The impact of hosting Eurovision will be felt for years,” she says. “All host cities have seen a significant increase in in visitors in the years following Eurovision. 

“Recent data from Turin (who were hosts in 2022) suggests that 59% of people who attended the event planned to return to Turin in the future, so conservatively, if Liverpool City Region saw a 3.5% increase in visitors per year, it would generate around ÂŁ250m additional income. And it’s not just about money. The pride this event will engender in the people who live and work here is priceless. 

“Just like 2008, this is a real milestone moment for the city, and we will never take for granted the honour of being able to stage this event for Ukraine.”

Get all of our latest Eurovision news HERE.

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