August 02, 2021
Across the Mersey from Liverpool, a group of grassroots promoters is trying to avoid that city’s redevelopment errors as they champion a vibrant cultural renewal
‘Community, not profit’: the creative renaissance of Birkenhead
Emblazoned above Christopher Torpey, co-founder of music venue Future Yard, are the words “The future is Birkenhead” in pink capital letters. “It’s tongue in cheek, but we mean what we say,” he says. “This town was once grand and prosperous, and it needn’t be forgotten about and viewed as a pauper to Liverpool. We wanted to have a venue, but also make people think differently about Birkenhead.”
Birkenhead is barely a mile from Liverpool, situated on the opposite bank of the River Mersey. It was once known as the “New York of Europe” thanks to its shipbuilding, but deindustrialisation and waves of austerity have created significant decline. Now, however, a growing cluster of organisations known informally as the Leftbank Collective hope to provide the infrastructure for a resurgent creative community. Recent commissions such as an immersive audio experience by US avant-garde musician Kali Malone in a 153-year-old hydraulic tower, and an interactive walking tour – featuring new pieces by Wirral musicians including Half Man Half Biscuit and OMD, inspired by local landmarks – are celebrating its former grandeur.
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