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Liverpool's eggs traordinary Eurovision Schools programme gets cracking
Photograph by Amrit Singh

Pupils at St Paul and St Timothy's Catholic Infant School take part in an egg painting art workshop with commissioned artist Amrit Singh © Amrit Singh

EGGS, brass bands and folktales are just a few of the ways that the Region's Schools will be invited to celebrate Eurovision as Liverpool prepares to host the iconic song contest.

Following the announcement of EuroFest; a 2 week cultural festival that will run alongside the competition; Liverpool's education programme, EuroLearn is now getting under way and will offer youngsters from early years to secondary Schools a chance to be inspired by Eurovision.

EuroLearn is being made possible through generous funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund with additional funds from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Government's UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Funding from Spirit of 2012 will also support EuroLearn as well as the future evaluation of Eurovision's benefit to the City Region.

Led by Liverpool City Council's Culture Liverpool team, alongside a wide range of creative partners, this is the 1st time a host City has offered an engagement programme of this scale and was an integral part of the successful bid to host the song contest on behalf of Ukraine.

EuroLearn has 3 main strands:- music, visual arts, and storytelling; and Schools across the City Region will be supplied with resource packs which they can use to bring Eurovision into the classroom.

Resonate, Liverpool's music education hub, is co-ordinating the music strand with highlights including:-

  100 Voices - A Secondary School mass collaborative choir alongside the Ukrainian Children's Choir.

  EuroBrass! - A Eurovision and brass band soundclash by Mersey Youth Brass.

  An emerging singer-songWriter festival for Schools, in June.

  Sanctuary and Unity Through Song - Project for children and young people with special educational needs supported by Liverpool Hope University.

  Performances by the Liverpool Signing Choir.

The visual arts strand takes its inspiration from the tradition of egg painting, known as Pysanka, in Ukraine, with an online artist-developed resource pack made available via the Culture Liverpool website to allow not only Schools but people of any age to get involved.

Working with Liverpool ONE, artists have also been commissioned to work with Schools across the City Region to decorate giant eggs that will feature as a public art display in Liverpool 1 from 31 March. Each local Authority will select Schools to decorate an egg with a seventh egg being decorated by members of the Ukrainian community.

The Liverpool Learning Partnership will co-ordinate the storytelling strand by focusing on the folk tales of Eurovision countries, and there will also be a:- "twinning" of Liverpool Central Library with Odesa National Scientific Library.

Culture Liverpool's community engagement programme will be announced soon.

Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said:- "Making sure that the whole of Liverpool and the wider City Region can get involved in Eurovision is very important to us. EuroLearn is about Culture Liverpool supporting our youngest citizens to join in the fun in a meaningful way and to embrace the Eurovision family of countries and we are very grateful to our funders The National Lottery Heritage Fund, DCMS, Spirit of 2012, and the Government's UK Shared Prosperity Fund for supporting us. As always, partners have jumped at the chance to be involved in what could be a once in a lifetime event and we've been overwhelmed but not surprised by the ideas and passion which have emerged so that we can do Liverpool and, above all, Ukraine proud."

Eilish McGuinness, chief executive at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:- "Liverpool is a City steeped in heritage and renowned for its impact on the musical world, so it is incredibly exciting that it is playing host to 1 of the biggest global music events; Eurovision. We are delighted that thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we are supporting the EuroLearn programme. EuroLearn is already shaping up to be an outstanding programme bringing together children and young people across the City Region to connect with and share, not only the rich heritage of Eurovision and their home City, but also the significant cultures and traditions of Ukraine."

Eurovision Minister Stuart Andrew said:- "EuroLearn will help bring Eurovision to life for a generation of Schoolchildren in Liverpool giving them a fantastic opportunity to involved in what is a hugely exciting time for this great City. Arts and culture has a wonderful power to bring people together and EuroLearn and EuroStreets will use music, storytelling and the visual arts to do just that, as well as creating bonds between young people from Ukraine with those on Merseyside."

Ruth Hollis, chief executive, Spirit of 2012, said:- "We're delighted to support this exciting programme for Liverpool Schools. Eurovision holds a very special place in our hearts and this once in a lifetime event for Liverpool is a fantastic opportunity to engage and involve the City's young people, igniting and nurturing their interest in music and the arts as well as using this year's unique link to Ukraine, to build connections and shared understanding."


Commissioners report welcomed

LIVERPOOL City Council has welcomed the latest update report from the Government appointed Commissioners. The Commissioners; who are at the halfway stage of their 3 year intervention; says that the Council's political and Officer leadership:- "have shown grip and determination to improve at pace," and they now have:- "cautious optimism for the improvement journey."

There is praise for the work of Mayor Joanne Anderson and her Cabinet, as well as for the work of the interim Chief Executive Theresa Grant, who was appointed in August 2022. In a letter to the Secretary of State Michael Gove, the Commissioners have reported that:-

  Officers have developed credible options, at pace, to meet the significant budget gap. The Mayor and Cabinet have shown commendable political leadership to take the difficult decisions necessary to set a balanced budget.

  The Council has a more corporate approach to senior decision making, with a robust forward look, and with silo working now diminishing. The senior leadership team is committed to open communication with staff.

  A new organisational structure has been agreed to improve capacity and capability, and progress is being made on recruitment.

  A robust transformation programme has been established and is working to reduce costs and improve the quality of services.

  Tactical improvements are starting to show, such as the:- increased income collection, reduced lease renewal backlog and an audit plan now in place.

However, they caution that the following risks still require close management:-

  The change in political leadership with a change of governance model and all out elections to new boundaries.

  Changes to the Senior Leadership Team including the appointment of a new Chief Executive and a new Corporate Director of Finance.

  Budget decision making and implementation alongside a Council wide transformation programme.

  That service areas subject to intervention are stable.

  Culture change, which requires sustained engagement from staff at all levels of the organisation.

The report concludes:- "While not certain, if the leadership maintains the focus, energy and commitment observed in recent months, we have confidence the required progress will be made."

Andrew Lewis is set to start as the Council's permanent Chief Executive in June 2023, and senior appointments have recently been made in the City Development team as part of a restructure of the top team. You can read the full report at:- Gov.UK.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said:- "A huge amount of energy and focus has gone into accelerating the pace of improvement at Liverpool City Council since last summer, and I am pleased that this has been recognised by the Commissioners. We are already a very different organisation to the 1 I inherited in May 2021, with a commitment to openness and transparency and work under way to deliver high-quality, value-for-money services for our residents. We have made some excellent appointments to senior roles in recent weeks, with more in the pipeline, and I am expecting the new personnel to inject impetus into our improvement journey. My commitment to the City was always to work with senior managers and elected members to put in place solid foundations for the Council's future and we are now starting to see the results of the hard work of many people."

Interim Chief Executive, Theresa Grant, said:- "I have seen a significant shift in the pace, energy and commitment to delivering improvements during my time at Liverpool City Council, and it is good news that this is reflected in the latest report from the Commissioners. I am particularly proud of the way the whole organisation, including frontline staff and elected members, rose to the challenge of delivering a realistic balanced budget in a very short period of time to put us on a stable financial footing. We have also significantly upped the pace of our transformation programme with the aim of delivering services in our neighbourhoods in a much more joined-up and coherent way. There is a determination that the improvements we are embedding across the organisation will deliver the improvements required by Commissioners, but it is clear there is no room for complacency."

Commissioners publish 3rd report into Liverpool City Council

THE 3rd report to the Secretary of State for:- 'Levelling Up, Housing and Communities' has been published on:- Gov.UK. Within a statement sent to us, Liverpool Council said:- "We believe that there is now cause for cautious optimism for the improvement journey of the Council. The leadership of the Council, at political and Officer level, have shown grip and determination to improve at pace. In our last report, we concluded that not enough progress had been made at Liverpool City Council since the start of the intervention. We set out our concerns that the Council had not correctly assessed the nature and scale of the improvements required and concluded that an expansion of the intervention, and the appointment of a Finance Commissioner, was necessary. There are now areas of progress evidenced throughout the Council. A new organisational structure has also been agreed to improve capacity and capability, and progress is being made to improve recruitment processes. There have been improvements in Council tax collection from a low base, there is now a proper Audit Plan in place, and the Council have significantly reduced their backlog of lease renewals. These are much needed improvements. However, the next 6 months represents a period of profound change for the Council. This is a period of great opportunity, but changes of this magnitude inherently carry risk. The All-Out elections in May and the new model of governance will change the political leadership, alongside the Officer leadership changes in the next few months. These changes cannot be allowed to interrupt the momentum that has been developed in recent months. Last week, the new permanent Chief Executive, Andrew Lewis, was announced. We welcome his appointment and believe he is the right person to manage the challenges ahead and continue building on the improvements that we've recently been able to see at the Council. Although further prioritisation and capacity is needed to keep up the pace of the transformation work over the next period, it increasingly looks like the right ingredients are being put in place for Liverpool City Council to make further progress. Commissioners will continue to work with LCC to ensure the positive trajectory continues."

Lead Commissioner, Mike Cunningham, said:- "We are pleased to announce that our 3rd report on the intervention, at Liverpool City Council has just been published. This report represents a positive shift in the progress the Council are making in their improvement journey. Although challenges and risks to continued improvement remain, we are cautiously optimistic that the current positive trajectory will continue. We will work closely with the new permanent Chief Executive, Andrew Lewis, to help mitigate some of the challenges ahead."

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