A dynamic group of Birkenhead residents is coming together with Lord Tony Hall of Birkenhead to try to ensure the town’s heritage becomes a driver of its future fortunes.
Following the news that the Williamson Art Gallery was to be saved by the Wirral Labour budget, the group has made the cultural hub one of its key focuses.
Lord Hall, who is chair of the National Gallery and former Director-General of the BBC, will chair a steering group of local residents who can bring their expertise and networks to support the future of the town’s cultural and heritage assets.
Wirral Labour council leader, Cllr Janette Williamson is a Birkenhead resident and a leading national figure in the growing Community Wealth Building movement which is bringing new people-centred approaches to local economic development, redirects wealth back into the local economies, and places control and benefits into the hands of local people.
Cllr Williamson says: “When local residents who just happen to be experts in the field of arts, culture and heritage industries and policy making want to come together to bring out what they believe is the best in Birkenhead I’m happy to seize the opportunity to work with them.
“It is heartening to be helped to see our town’s heritage icons as gifts from past generations that with new nurturing will keep giving to our own and future generations.
“I thank Baron Hall of Birkenhead, David Fleming, Alison McGovern and Emma Rodgers for volunteering their knowledge, generosity of time and creative input. Their example of good citizenship and friendship to Birkenhead lifts the spirit. And I’m looking forward to working with them.
The group wants to work with fellow town folk and the council to drive forward plans to integrate of Birkenhead Park and the Williamson Art Gallery as anchor institutions which will build both build local wealth and cultural health into building back a better town post-pandemic.”
Lord Hall, an alumnus of Birkenhead School, is also keen to bring renewed respect to the global significance of Birkenhead as a template for modern town planning by strengthening international links particularly with New York’s Central Park which was modelled on Birkenhead Park. He says: “I’m thrilled to be working with this great group of people to help showcase and talk up Birkenhead’s cultural offer.”
Internationally acclaimed sculptor, Emma Rodgers, former head of National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, David Fleming and current Shadow Minister for Culture and Sport, Alison McGovern, who all live in the town, have all agreed to be part of resident launched The Birkenhead Group.
Alison McGovern says: “What an honour to be able to bring my love of art right home to my doorstep. I was Bromborough born and brought up and my family live here in the Wirral. So I want it to be as great a place as we can make it. Culture and Sport need to be at the heart of building back a beautiful vision of the future. Creating art and playing in parks aren’t just for children. The well-being of all of us depends on having spaces of beauty to inspire us. I’m excited to be part of The Birkenhead Group.”
Emma Rodgers echoes: “I was born and brought up in Birkenhead right between The Williamson and Park. Both were my playgrounds. I still live here and believe if we wrap them in people power and love we will renew our relationship with our town into a love affair of future possibility not the sad tale of decline that has taken grip here for too long “
David Fleming concludes: ” As a Birkenhead local I look forward to being part of a local initiative which can keep Birkenhead’s cultural past relevant to its present and its future.”