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24 September 2014
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Robyn Archer

Culture chief quits

By Paul Coslett
Liverpool's Capital of Culture Artistic Director Robyn Archer has quit her post only months after taking up the role full time. Have your say.

Liverpool Culture Company's Artistic Director Robyn Archer has resigned casting doubt over the city's plans for 2008.

Robyn Archer was appointed to lead the delivery of artistic events for Liverpool's Capital of Culture year in 2008. She joined the Liverpool Culture Company in 2004 but her appointment was controversial as she spent the first two years of her job working part time from Australia. Earlier this year there was speculation about whether she had signed her contract with the Culture Company. There were also problems with the her visa leading to uncertainty over her role in the preparations for 2008.

audio Liverpool Culture Chief Exec Jason Harborow >
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A statement from Liverpool Culture Company says that Robyn Archer has left her post for personal reasons.

Tessa Jowell
Culture minister Tessa Jowell visits Liverpool

Liverpool was due to unveil its plans for 2008 in November. The Liverpool Culture Company says the announcement will still take place as planned and that they will continue to work closely with arts and cultural organisations to develop the plans for 2008.

A statement from Robyn Archer said "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working with a great artistic team at the Culture Company and I would also particularly like to thank all the major cultural and community organisations who are at the heart of delivering a great Capital of Culture in 2008.  I very much regret leaving Liverpool at this stage but I know that there is a fantastic depth of creative talent in the city who will remain in place. I am certain that Liverpool will indeed deliver on its promise of a very special Capital of Culture."

Councillor Warren Bradley, Leader of Liverpool City Council says he regrets Robyn Archers departure, "Robyn Archer is one of the world's most foremost and respected festival directors with more than 10 years' experience in arranging large-scale international events. It is a matter of great regret that she has decided that she can no longer continue in her role here for personal reasons. I would like to thank her for her work in Liverpool and wish her well for the future."

last updated: 04/07/06
Have Your Say
Where does Liverpool go now? How confident are you that Liverpool can deliver a successful Capital of Culture year in 2008. Add your comments here.
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arts worker
Liverpool can still pull this off but we are looking foolish now having fouled up so many things like the 4th grace, the museum and now losing our key player before we get on the pitch. i heard them say the culture company has 80 staff. There ought to be more involvement of the local arts community otherwise we will all move on to Manchester or even Gateshead where there is some real vision and leadership

Karl
The European Capital of Culture artistic director has gone home to Australi (good) Why did she get the job? in the first Place, and why was she aloud to book acts from Australia as well. When it should be about what liverpool has got to offer. We won this, It about our Culture let hope that some one capable of doing the job, get appointed very fast so we can get on track and make the most of it.

Chris Jones
By what series of mind-stretching manoeuvres was it ever deemed appropriate for the artistic director of the city's Capital of Culture to be a non-UK resident, who, it transpires, was not even a work visa holder? The people responsible for this wasteful and damaging decision should be made to give a clear, public explanation of their illogicality. This is public money being wasted left, right and centre, to say nothing of the continuing reputation of Liverpool as a city that cannot get a proper act together. What do they think they are playing at? We need to be told, and they(the decision-makers) need to have their unmerited power to waste our money taken away from them. The plain people of Liverpool are fuming.

Alexandra MacRae
Liverpool is not European Capital of Culture 2008. It is JOINT Capital of Culture 2008 with Stavanger. I am pleased to say that Stavanger 2008 is coming along very nicely and, if Liverpool falls on its face, at least the world and its wife will be able to come to the beautiful city of Stavanger for a feast of cultural delights. Your report was typically anglocentric by failing to mention Stavanger 2008.

Ian from Newcastle
I was bitterly dissappointed when i heard that Newcastle didn't win the Capital of Culture 08 bid as the public poll indicated that the majority wanted it to be held there. I was however more disheartened when i heard of such bad missmanagement of the capital of culture in Liverpool. I don't know whether Newcastle would have been better hosts but liverpool are making such a debarcle of the whole thing that i feel ashamed to be British. Just add 2008 to the long list of The Dome, The Scottish Parliament Building, Wembly, The Spinacre Tower in Portsmouth originally to be christened the Millenium tower but as it's only just been finished that seems a little far fetched. Why can't we do anything?! It's a disgrace. Other countries manage these things so much better, maybe that's why we get foreigners in to try and organise them but they end up getting bogged down in British Beaurocracy too.

Mike
As a resident of Liverpool the only sign I have seen of the ‘Capital of culture' venture is a big TV screen in the town centre. So 'culture' means more TV. As a resident no one has asked me my opinion about any of it. It seems to a massive job creation scheme for the middle class regeneration experts employed by the city council and private consultants. It will not address the real problem which is that Liverpool is a ‘low skills - low wage economy’. Mike

Bazza Expat Scouse Australia
Whats the saying " To many cooks spoil the broth". Ask your yourselves, who chose Robyn Archer to be the artistic director for Liverpool, the city of culture 2008. I think you will find that, why Robyn Archer was chosen was because, of her creative success, in the many festivals she has produced. Should your name be on top of the success or failure of a festival, would you accept interference, from others? No way! Should Liverpool wish to live the city of the Beatles, then go for it. BTW. They knocked down the Cavern club. Another great thinking of Liverpool. Be proud Liverpool, but do not be insular!

Jim McCabe
The "Culture of Capital" jibe is an easy one to make, but its resonance grows exponentially with news like this. I was always sceptical of the boast that 2008 would "transform" Liverpool. Instead of celebrating and showcasing today's cultural scene in the city, both the city council and the Culture Company (an oxymoron if ever there was one) have dropped heavy hints all along that the year itself will be dominated by Beatle nostalgia (hosted, presumably, by such cultural assets as Boardman, et al).

Derek
Liverpool cannot even help support it's own International Half Marathon without creating barriers in supporting the race organisers, so what chance does it have of showning off it's cultural heritage? The appointment of Robyn Archer should never have happened - I am certain that somewhere within the wealth of local talent there is one person capable of doing the job she was employed to do.

Passionate About L'Pool.
Liverpool people deserve better. From the jewel, and subsequent dereliction that was the Garden Festival in 1984, through to the farcical preparations which are now the fault of the 2008 Culture Committee, and many more failed projects in between the years (trams/4th grace etc etc etc) Liverpool is once again seen to be an (expensive) embarassment. Why can't the City Council, and it's multitude of committees get anything right? Liverpool has had an ideal opportunity with 'C of C 2008' to show that it is forward thinking and passionate. Sadly, I suspect that the organisers secretly regret awarding us with the accolade in the first place. Yet, people keep telling me that this is the place to be..!! Just think where we may have been under competent management. Do those responsible get the push, as they would in industry? No, more like a hefty pay-off. I think Councillor Storey will be celebrating 2008 as a solitary figure.

Christine, Liverpool, 18
Why did we hire someone so obviously not dedicated to the Capital of Culture status, Why not take a chance on someone more dedicated and in touch with what people of liverpool want and our interests, in otherwords someone more passionate about what makes liverpool individual and why we were chosen for the 2008 Capital of Culture, one again it is a bad decision from Liverpool Council. We need to make more of what attractions and traditions liverpool has and involve the people of liverpool in decisions, after all we were chosen to be capital of culture because of the cultural basis already in place in liverpool. Only a scouser can do Liverpool justice!

Mike
To all those writing off 2008 - are you the same people who wrote off Liverpool's chances of winning the thing in the first place? Its easy to pontificate but what are you doing for 2008? Apparently the 08 highlights will be announced in November, so isn't it a bit premature to judge whether its goign to be a success or not?

Barry Dean
A lot of the comments say "typical of Liverpool Council". But whilst not defending them, this is typical of Britain. We hire foreign individuals and companies to run big projects and they usually go wrong or come to nothing. What happened to Robert Kiley who was going to fix the London Underground? Will we ever get a new Wembley? And don't get me started on the Dome! This comes as no surprise at all. And who in their right mind appointed someone part time working from home in Australia to run the "Culture Company"! What happened to common sense?

Liz Lacey
Robyn Archer's departure is an opportunity for the artistic and cultural wider community of the city to rally round and show that promises made in the Bid written for European Capital of Culture are deliverable,and deliverable by the people of the city. Liverpool does not need to have its culture and heritage interpreted for it. It is a complex and fascinating place. Without sounding parochial, it was laways quite hard to see how the essence of a place, which is its culture, could be grasped and embodied by someone whose emotional investment and knowledge was limited. To anyone from outside the city, artistic director would merely be a job , albeit an interesting and high-profile one. For those of us who live here and intend to bear witness to the regeneration and renaissance of our city, the symbolic nature of Liverpool's designation as European Capital of Culture might have more resonance than a year of artistic programming. This is a matter of civic pride set against decades of prejudice. If differences and narrow interpretations are set aside, and we truly believe our own publicity, Liverpool can do the reverse of what it has done in the past, and snatch triumph from the jaws of disaster. And if not, we have no-one to blame but ourselves. There are enough talented, original, imaginative people here to ensure that Liverpool becomes a centre of culture for much longer than a year set aside for the purpose. We need to look further and wider, but also reflect on our own insularity. If only a tenth of the talent that Liverpool is celebrated for dedicated themselves to coming back and supporting the city during 2008, we would certainly deliver a resounding and unforgettable success.

Completely disappointed
As someone who has always been a passionate advocate of the arts and someone who openly welcomes new and exciting blood into Liverpool, I am afraid I am going to have say: Roll on 2009! Only then will the talented people who are genuinely committed to this city be able to get on with the job of making Liverpool a wonderful place to live in again. I am so disappointed to have given up on 2008 as I had such high hopes at the outset; but the apparent administration in charge just leaves me feeling exasperated.

simon williams
i think the decision to appoint her in the first place was wrong. if the message about liverpool's status as capital of culture was genuine then they should have appointed a scouser. the appointment showed up what a debacle the whole experience has and will continue to be.

David Fishel
Why did we look "outside" in the first place? Do we really have such little belief in our home-grown talent? Culture, like charity, begins at home. Poor Liverpool! Poor Liverpool people! It just isn't fair.

Kevin Humphreys
Would you have your manager running the office from Australia? So why have a vast 2008 arrangement, you need 'Hands On' with an event of this scale.

Hilary Burrage
There is still serious doubt in many minds about what it's all 'for'. I keep asking, 'By what criteria will we know that 2007 (Liverpool's 800th Anniversary) and 2008 (European Capital of Culture Year) have been a success?' There may well be a number of answers, all legitimate, to this questionm; but without being very clear what these answers are, I can't see how we can make progress - and I've been involved in the Liverpool arts and culture scene for many years, especially around our famous Hope Street - the home of most of our theatres, both cathedrals and much of our HE activity. This latest debacle is a very serious situation to be in - 2008 is Liverpool's best opportunity yet to get into the economic and social mainstream. It must be MADE to happen, through us all insisting on answers and making our voices heard. It's too important to get wrong in the end! Hilary www.hilaryburrage.com

Bonzo Fog
Culturally, Liverpool IS progressing by leaps and bounds, but in spite of the council & the 'capital of culture industry', not because of them. It is the theatres, the colleges and little independent outfits (eg theflaneur.co.uk & many others) who are making the difference. Take heart, Liverpool is on the road to a renaissance, but we may have to lose a lot more mumpers on the gravy train before we get there. Let's hope so at least.

Liam Fogarty
This fiasco highlights the lack of accountable, creative and honest civic leadership in Liverpool. Those who queued up to praise Ms Archer over the last two years have now deemed her the scapegoat for the failure of Liverpool '08 to inspire, to create and to engage. When we need straight talking, we get spin. Yesterday's "resignation" is today's "sacking." Ms Archer's has gone from being "the outstanding candidate"(M.Storey, April 2004) to "not my first choice"(M.Storey, July 2006) Robyn The Divine is now Robyn The Diva, and even the "Tasmanian Devil." Sure, there are questions to be asked about her appointment, her commitment and her achievements.But Ms Archer had bosses, including people who don't know their arts from their elbow. We need straight talking from our "leaders." But I won't hold my breath waiting for any. Liam Fogarty, Chair of amayorforliverpool.org

Pat Murray
If things are left in the hands of Mike Storey I am not at all cofident about the Capitol of Culture. He was stumbling and mumbling in the interview with Lee on Radio Merseyside this morning. I hope he is not involved in any decision making in the future. He seems to distance himself from anything which goes wrong . He didn't think Robyn Archer was right for the job--he says now!

Bobby Peel
These people aren't 'Liverpool', it isn't 'Liverpool' that's going anywhere or delivering anything. It's not about 'Liverpool' and it's not about 'culture'. It's about their careers and their view of the world. It's an obscene waste of time and money (though 'London' has wasted more) but apart from that it's hardly worthy of note. So they've lost another one of their number. There are plenty enough more like her. They'll cope. It's never been any good anywhere else and it can't be any good in Liverpool because it's what it is. It's officially sanctioned and therefore inevitably utterly worthless.

norgren
congratulations Liverpool our leaders have once again ridiculed us

almalmac
Can't help but think that the same spin doctor who talked up the ability of the England football team is the same spin doctor talking up the Capital of Culture. At least please please try and stop the own goals from now on.

Steve
the time is right to 'rescue' the whole shambles. there should be an audit NOW of what has been done to date. Community organisations (which the bid was built on) have been overlooked, lost funding, impoverished and folded as a direct result of the complacency of the Culture Company. there ARe good people from the City in the team but their integrity and relationship with the grass roots has been assimilated into this middle class, 'lifestyle', fur coat and no knickers cultural definition. WHo are the culture company accountable too? the grass roots community organisation whose work they used to win the title. Those in the culture company need to get they sleeves rolled up and meet those organisations face to face, they need to be honest and accountable, they need to listen. it is those organisations who have created the scenario that those in the team are earning their over inflated salaries from. those community organisations need to stop being sfraid of what 'upsetting' the culture company might do for their future funding. we need to get together, get organised and STOP letting them get away with it.

Liverpudlian Citizen of the World
Dear oh dear. Another mismanaged fiasco, still, it’s only public money… The title of the event is EUROPEAN Capital of Culture 2008, something the ‘organisers’ seem keen to play down, appointing an Australian to run it. To further kick Europe in the teeth, modern languages courses that attract large numbers of international students to Liverpool and add to the vibrancy of the city are being closed down! It seems to have been forgotten that during the eighteen years of Conservative Government, it was European grants that prevented Liverpool closing down altogether when London and the South turned its back and made cheap, unfunny jokes. Liverpool already is an international city in spite of the bumbling efforts of the powers-that-be, such as the Council, the “Culture Company”, etc. How many of the people paid to ‘organise’ this actually speak foreign languages? How many have a grasp of ‘culture’ at all? The interference of this lot can only result is a costly, embarrassing disaster. There is a lot more to Liverpool than footie ‘n’ Beatles. There always has been.

Tony Vaughan
Capital of Culture? I'm naive enough to believe we "attained" the title because of our inherent, historical and indiginous cultural heritage honed over the centuries so why try to impose an Aussie, mid Atlantic,idea of what "OUR" cuture should showcase to the rest of the world. Come on keep it in house: give the job to Bleasedale, Dodd, Mc Gough, Daniels, Mc Cartney et al and, my God, what a Cultural revolution we could give to "der rest of der Wirld la!"

laurie tighe
Another own goal by the City Fathers ! Always going to do !!! The City of Culture is slipping into a total farce.

Sarah Mac
Capital of Culture? this has been more about the Culture of Capital. At a recent meeting the CC handed round a hastily photocopied hand-written agenda. Events for 2008 - The Irish festival, Writing on the Wall, Africa Oye - events that happen anyway! How many employees at the CC? Over 50? Over 80? And yet they still feel the need to subcontract funding decisions to another company. There's a lot happening in Liverpool: a city full of performers, writers, artists, musicians. Fund them properly - and TRANSPARENTLY (instead of making announcements in the local press that CC are funding arts organisations that aren't Liverpool-based, or have even handed in their accounts) - and make a strong foundation for the City to build on AFTER 2008.

Terry McVeigh
Mike Storey's 'it was nothing to do with me guv' performance on the breakfast show this morning was absolutely shameful. Just how stupid does he think Liverpool people are? His attitude is typical of teh responsibility dodging that has got us into this mess in the first place. Please don't insult us by having the front to claim that everything is fine Mr. Storey, Capital of Culture is becoming a fiasco!

Jim O'Brien
well Stanly! this is another fine mess you'v gotten me into, when are they going to get anything right? total incompetence from the lot.

Arts Worker
As an adopted scouser I really dont know how much longer I can stay here and watch Liverpool City Council destory the city and the people through their regular displays of shocking mis-management! Tall building planning refusals, tram fiasco, 4th grace chaos, licensing bars that the police would prefer closed, Quiggins closure and now Capital of Culture. The city and its people deserve better but instead are being made into the laughing stock of not only the UK & Europe but the world!

the artist formerly known as spoon
Why are our council so completely incompetent? they were given a great opportunity to turn liverpool into one of the greatest creative hubs in the world, and our council have managed to turn it into something that has set the imbeciles and their corporate friends well on their way to needing people to hold up their trousers because of all the cash in their wallets, yet which is doing nothing more cultural than than turning liverpool into the biggest building site in europe and bringing chaos to the city so we can have a huge shopping mall with nothing original or innovative or dare I say it - cultural contained within it just the same chain shops everywhere else has just with underpaid scousers rather than underpaid brummies, or geordies or mancunians.

Barry Wain
Wonder what golden goodbye (cash pay off) Robyn Archer will receive from our fair city?

L8 Resident
Total disaster zone again as usual this Council are totally pathetic while our Councillors are away with the fairies - we need some proper governance once and for all and if London have to take over and parachute people in to do it then so be it

Phil Garston
Robyn Archer knew nothing of Liverpool culture and presented us with a series of events for Liverpool performs 2006 sourced from America and Canada. The first of which, Super Vision, was a spectacular failure. Perhaps now we can get somebody on board who will showcase true Liverpool culture instead of an outsider who will force their interpretation of what our culture should be upon us ... whether we like it or not. Either that or, once again, we can snatch failure from the jaws of success.

steven charlesworth
Capital of culture. What a farce. The council have just forced the closure of a cultural building Quiggins to replace it for a faceless shopping centre. forcing culture out and replacing it with numbin shopps. There's no culture in liverpool

Philip Battle (Artist)
I’m not surprised at the recent developments with regards to the Culture Company. There are many problems with Liverpool and its cynical use of ‘culture’ as a means to redevelop the city and boost the local economy. The culture that really needs to change in Liverpool is that of the city council itself, the Culture Company and Liverpool City council are one and the same thing and that can only be a bad thing. They are the same people who told us that we were ‘Littering the Streets’ when we use to run our Festival of Street Art. They are the same people who told us ‘You have brought nothing to this event’ since then we have not worked in Liverpool for over 4 years!! We have worked all over the world from Singapore to Dubai and beyond with people of true vision and in cities of real culture that don’t have to call themselves a ‘Capital of Culture’ they just are! This may seem cynical from our own point of view but as Liverpool Artists we can see ourselves playing NO PART in Liverpool’s year of Culture, we can’t see a role for ourselves and I don’t think anything is going to change until the culture changes! Best Wishes Philip Battle (Artist)

Joan from South Liverpool
Good grief. Ironic isn't it that a city of such football passions should be well versed in that song "'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go, 'Ere We Go....AGAIN!" There are better organised school fun days than anything the "No Powers that be" running this city can come up with. Still 18 months should be plenty of time to organise a few face paints and some fireworks (Oh No - they always get rained off dont they!)

Jack from Wallasey
Incredible! Francis lee used to reckon that if there was a cup for cock-ups Man City would win it every season but he didn't know Liverpool Council!

Mr T
I hope the voters of liverpool remember the fiasco this council has presided over during these last few years. Perhaps when councillors dedicate their time and efforts to the betterment of this city rather than themselves and their endless pockets things will improve. Dedicated Individuals may yet rescue this city and present a "cultural" face to the world in 2008 but we in the city know this will also only paper over the mismanagement cracks..

Janet Smith
Isn't it funny all the big wigs who promised so much, but delivered so little are jumping ship. Storey, Henshaw and now Archer. If they had stuck to culture rather than building cultural luxury apartments liverpool may have delivered a capital of culture. As it is it will be a laughing stock and capital of cranes!

Alex Parkinson
If she had anything to do with the dreadful waste of money putting up the road side posters then good riddance! Not many people will notice the Cultural posters never mind appreciate them. There must have been a better way of spending money.

loutysonsmith
Not surprised but still disappointed. It's going to take someone to make some strong decisions fast if we are to turn this around. On past experience, this is unlikely to happen. In the meantime, those who have been working away on their ideas and plans for 2007 and 2008 will just carry on - it would take an act of God to rustle up some leadership now.

Leslie Carr
Here we go again!This city can't organize the proverbial P*** up in a brewary.The public knew she was'nt staying but the media insisted she was doing a wonderful job.Another shambles to hang alongside the Grace that never was,the invisible tram system and many other Liverpool flops.

antony jenkins
We are a laughing stock! the whole country must be looking at us and thinking, capital of culture? my A**e we should appoint someone who is multicultured ie who represents the black and other minorities of the city maybe we should have a black person. would certainly get the job done. How much was she getting for the job?? a big big sallary i'll bet ah well.. who knows.. I wonder what the next fiasco will be?? because there have so many. we criticise the mancs, but they know how to run their city.

G Edwards
This resignation comes as no surprise. I just hope the Council can find a replacement soon to rescue us from becoming Liverpool 08 European Capital of Embarrassment and Humiliation.

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