Funding ends for Wirral Olympic column of steam

Column of steam over Wirral Column by Anthony McCall was commissioned by Arts Council England for the Cultural Olympiad

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Funding for a column of steam planned to rise above Wirral in celebration of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will not continue.

Arts Council England will not be investing any more money in the delayed project, but will "continue to support the production team to make it happen".

Column by Anthony McCall was commissioned by Arts Council England for the Cultural Olympiad.

The work will now run to 2013 "to give the team the extra time they require".

An Arts Council England spokesperson said the extension was also to "pre-empt any further delays that adverse winter weather conditions may cause".

Column was commissioned in 2009, with an award of £500,000.

'World-first'

It was due to be put in place last year but planning permission was delayed due to issues with it being on the flight path for Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

The steam is planned to rise 1.2m (2 km) into the air above the Wirral waterfront on the Mersey, standing at Birkenhead's East Dock directly opposite the Pier Head in Liverpool.

Moira Sinclair, from Arts Council England, said they had been monitoring Column's progress closely.

"Although the delays to its delivery are disappointing, the Arts Council is absolutely committed to enabling artists to take risks because that's when great art often happens," she said.

"The Column team has made a lot of progress during this final testing phase.

"By allowing them the extra time they need we hope to see Column realised in 2013, as a world-first, and for the people of Merseyside and beyond to experience and enjoy."

The Cultural Olympiad is part of the London 2012 Festival, which ran alongside the London 2012 Olympics.

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