29 SES 08, Museums and Arts Education
Quite apart from Liverpool’s hosting of the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) event in 2008, the city has been searching for a regeneration strategy since the 1970s. At the time, Liverpool's docks and industries went into sharp decline. Consequently, in 1972, the dock was closed and became the symbol of the collapse of the local economy as a whole. Having lain derelict for almost ten years, the redevelopment of the dock began in 1981. As Lorente (2003) state ‘the museum arrived first’ and the Tate in the North, as Tate Liverpool became known, opened its doors in 1988, at the Albert Dock. Although as one of our interviewed state: But if you can imagine 1988 the dock is deselected […] there was a “no go area“ and quite a dangerous place. The city was in an economic meltdown, decline... no jobs, you know?! ... no money. The Govern spending money putting a National Art Gallery... when we have no home, have no jobs, in deep poverty, you know?! It was other brave or a very very stupid decision.
At fin-de-siècle post-industrial cities, such as Liverpool, were applying art-led models of urban regeneration, trying to attract cultural institution to the city, in the hope that they instigate a transition to a knowledge-based society (Harvey 1989; 2001). This process, as one can imagine, has faced strong opposition and resistance from various quarters. This paper intent to discuss the role that an arts educational strategy plays in the placement of a contemporary art gallery in a post-industrial city; and stresses the question raised by our interviewed: Was it a brave or a stupid decision?
Focusing on the Tate Liverpool’s Learning Department programme, the strategies required to firmly establish a Tate Gallery in Liverpool are considered, as well as how these strategies recognise and incorporate the city’s specific social and economic challenges. This discussion is based on the results of a global ethnography (Burawoy, 2000) research project focused on European cultural policies and educational dynamics.
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