Someone is doing very well out of Liverpool’s New Economy. And that person is probably holding a workshop next week, in a reclaimed warehouse, teaching you how you can do well out of it too, for £40 plus tea and cakes.

The same person will have wangled the hire of the event space for free, in exchange for a contra deal. The warehouse owners will have a big advert on the other person’s blog (that no-one reads, but who’s really checking the figures anyway in this land of make believe?)

The band they’ve dragged in for the after event party will be getting free exposure from the bloggers who are coming to write about it. And, really, they should be grateful.

The writers will be writing it for free, getting valuable experience for the next workshop, and the tea and sandwiches will be made by a friend looking to secure a catering contract with the event organisers, so is offering her services for, you guessed it, nothing.

Welcome to Liverpool contra. A city where a virtual army of dream catchers, pop-up happenings, strategic networking consultants and conference producers eke out a healthy living, and a bouncing business plan by couch surfing off the talents of others. A city that students are fleeing from, because they can’t live off virtual money, beer tokens or free wristbands.

A business model that exists thanks to grants, back scratching and plea bargaining. Where nothing new is created, and where no-one outside the cash-in-kind circle jerk stands to benefit. And, because the people who orchestrate this economy don’t create anything of substance, they seem to believe the rest of us live in a cash free world too.

Does it matter that, increasingly, it is the brand strategist, the PR consultant and the networking guru that have their hands around our economy?

Does it matter that we’ve granted £100,000 in grant funding to an organisation that freely takes content from other websites to create a facsimile of something that exists, like some quantum mechanics mindbender, in another form in another place, at the same time? Net contribution to the world, zero?

Does it matter that the city is currently in love with debating, rather than doing? Of workshopping rather than skills learning? That the same talking heads spout the same thing in the same publications, thus serving to promote their own self-appointed role of gatekeeper to culture?

“Mr Smoke, meet Mr Mirror… tell us, why is culture so important to you (apart from the fact that you syphon off thousands in grants while never once writing anything approaching a memorable hook?)”

Yes. I think it does. Because this airy strata of snake-oil salesmen and soothsayers are parasitic interventions, ensnaring the city’s real talent (the bands, the writers, the app developers and the bakers) are creaming off the cash before it hits the factory floor. And if you don’t feed the factory floor, the entire ecosystem dies – and we’re left with the grotesque spectacle of people who can’t do or make anything, holding workshops for other people whose ambition is not to do or make anything either.

A mediocrity-go-round that serves no-one, and kills us all, slowly. We’re crying out for a meritocracy built on skills – and all we get are social meet ups and sandwiches.

Of course, we’ve always needed this tier of society. Agents, middlemen and promoters (and God knows our promoters work hard to bring seriously good talent to the city).

But SevenStreets sees a worrying increase of meta-companies in our midst – of agencies set up to scoop up public funding, failed writers setting up magazines that are no more than a collection of clashing fonts, misplaced apostrophes and cut and paste press releases. Communications consultants merely shuffling information from point A, to present it to point B. Their ‘strategic media advice’ little more than an email with different headers and footers. And a pop-up fete.

We see ‘business organisations’ whose every waking hour consists of little more than grubby breakfast club meetings and networking evenings – as the sun arcs across the sky of a parallel city where other people are doing real jobs. Producing real things. Getting on with doing, rather than talking.

And let’s talk about publications. For most of these, too, are a service, not a product. They exist to throw pop-up adverts about dog racing in your face when you log on, or turn their homepage into one huge ad, kettling you off to somewhere you didn’t want to go, or to conspire to commit advertorial out of editorial without your consent. They exist not for us readers, but for their advertisers.

When a new magazine launches with the chutzpah to print its salaries – for editor, distributor and advertising executives – and openly admits to not paying its writers, well, we’re sorry but we’re out. The entire enterprise rides on the talent of the only people they’re not paying? And when LFC advertise for unpaid columnists because it’ll be ‘great exposure’ how do these unpaid columnists pay the gas bill, exactly?

Why would a music/art/craft event not pay all its musicians/artists/crafts people first, before then paying its army of PR, communications consultants and strategic development officers. Why? Because we let them. Why? Because this city’s creative economy favours those who talk a good talk, rather than devote time and devotion to creating something new. And the artists and product-makers should be grateful for the meagre crumbs from their table.

And the workshops they promote? They’re not held for your benefit. They’re not arranged to impart some hidden, gnostic gospel of truth to you. You are simply a by-product. A business throughput. A spike of excitement on their cashflow forecast.

Increasingly, we are the raw material that feeds these businesses. Just as the local bands are the raw materials that pep up awards shows, and the artisans and makers the raw materials for the Christmas markets and bazaars (“a stall for your hand-thrown tagines? Certainly, that’ll be £4,000 a week, thanks.”)

Just as the awards shows are really just there to give the awards show organisers a career, so the markets exist not to amaze and delight us with their produce. If it were not so, why would you think Liverpool ONE kicked out the Christmas markets last year?

But these people are just trying to make a living, right? No harm done?

To a point. But there is a darker side to all this quid-pro-quo. We’re all so keen not to upset, criticise or complain for fear that the city-wide conga of contras will pass us by, that we’re moving inexorably to a position where the poster of an honestly held, but negative, Twitter comment is set upon by the social media police for being ‘nasty’.

There is money in this city. There is a lot of money. Don’t believe the bullshit. And there are people making a living – a great living – procuring the others’ produce. Others’ hours spent honing their skills. Others’ solid, beautiful work.

Oh, and that workshop I told you about earlier?

The woman who’s PRing the event? You’ll see her, snapping away on her iPhone, to file a big photofeature in the local paper, for her ‘out and about’ column.

She doesn’t get paid for this. She does it on the tacit understanding that it’s OK to mention her clients events every now and again, bankroll her business, and ensnare more clients. So it’s not really editorial at all. It’s advertorial masquerading as it.

SevenStreets knows this, because we checked.

“Blank was taken on to provide this column on the basis that she is a PR specialising in events, who is out on the city’s party circuit on a regular basis. She is the city’s most active party person, and as such a great resource for us. There is no payment either way.” says the response we got from a leading local newspaper, concerning such a column.

But they are being disingenuous. Because there is a payment. We who buy the newspaper pay. And we lose.

We lose out on the deal because the writing’s substandard, the events aren’t interesting, and the cosy agreement omits us from benefiting from the deal in any meaningful way.

SevenStreets has never made any money, and has never paid anyone (or ourselves). We’ve also never reposted a press release. But we’re starting to get some advertising in. And we’re about to make some major changes.

Stay with us.

115 Responses to “The Liverpool Contra Affair”

  1. Cochyn

    The ‘party people’, PR types who are really running their own lifestyle rather than working at a trade, are one of several, complex reasons why journalism is in such a state. They are manufacturing ‘news’ [inc free pics], providing free copy – so they’re the source and the conduit – and their ‘clients’ are the consumers of their copy…….it’s not communication, it’s group masturbation. And if you’ve ever been to one of these functions, you’ll know that they’re full of wannabees who look over others’ shoulders to see if someone more useful is in the room……….. Ugh.

  2. Well said – I would also like to throw in the Liverpool reviewing scene where the local printed media never give less than 6 stars to ANYTHING… I am guessing due to the advertising revenue made from said theatres advertising… but in the end who is this pat on the back culture really helping or informing?

  3. ourmaninfords

    This reached a real low point when, on the day of the launch of the Justice Collective single, a local ‘journalist’ appeared on the facebook page of one of the band’s members bemoaning the fact that she had not been invited to the early morning launch shindig and was therefore unable to write anything about it. information about Hillsborough presumably being unavailable anywhere that didn’t serve vol-au-vents.

  4. Doc Daneeka

    Theres a lot right in this post. Certainly I’m not fan at all of the Sloane square wannabes doing PR and Marketing and I’d agree that most business clubs and networking groups etc are waste of time. Certainly even if they start off ok then they descend into nonesense as inevitably over time the business advisors looking for an ‘output’ outnumber the actual businesses.
    That said as someone thats worked in funding programmes in Merseyside both big capital projects and business support I know that what I always wanted was the best. The ‘X building’ the money would be, the best buisness support, the best University spin outs etc. Its no fun working through the long an tedious funding process with an applicant when you don’t believe the project is worth while. I know I had to work with Business link. But you can only fund what comes in, and what comes in is what those that want it to approve of. The best trick I ever saw was Liverpool Council managing to blame every crap EU or RDA funded project on someone else whilst taking the credit for anything that worked when the truth is most of the worst projects I saw were either those that were direct council applications, or were where we had to fund a national programme set by Idiot ministers.
    Don’t get me wrong a lot of what Obective One and the NWDA did wasn’t done that well, but you don’t drag your arse in everyday and take dull papers and reports home with you at night if you don’t care about the trying to make the city you life in better for everyone, especially as your not being paid as much as the consultants the applicants are hiring to massage there crap project through the system.

  5. Doc Daneeka

    Apologies for the awful spelling, grammer and basic english. just to clarify the 2 worst bits of mangled english;

    – The best ‘X type of building’ the money would buy,
    – But you can only fund what comes in, and what comes in is what those in charge want and approve of.

  6. Great piece on what are basically bullshit sectors – always been there, and forever blossoming all over the world.

    It’s refreshing to read a piece willing to challenge the status quo, at a time when local journalism has lost any backbone it might have had. There’s a lot more out there – keep digging.

  7. Tristan Brady-Jacobs

    A must-read for those of us ARTISTS in the
    cultural sector sick of standing in the street with our noses pressed
    against the window of steamy meeting places watching as our funding is
    frittered away in endless facilitation meetings and promotion events.
    How many PR companies are there in this city anyway!!!! (and breathe…)

  8. A. Oldie

    What you say is most likely true….but its not new…..I left the city more than 30 years ago and don’t get back as much as I would like…..but there was similar goings-on as I worked in the city night economy …..clubs and bars would be hyped by the media without any real basis for their comment.

    I read your stuff because it has an honesty and integrity about it that much of the ‘proper press’ lack. Take the advertising by all means … long as it NEVER tempts you to change your views.

  9. Cath Bore

    This has given me an idea…to put on a workshop about how to put on a workshop! And of course there’ll be a networking session at the end. Plus cupcakes.


    Genius! I’m ex Scouser now NYC based running a PR company. I’ve been approached by a few of the contra-crew… and have actually walked from a few of the projects I’ve been offered working with them as I was totally disgusted at how they are all ‘take the $ and run’ jobs! I’d love to talk to whoever is brave enough to go in like Serpico and order internal affairs as there’s such an abuse of money going into the wrong hands. And there doesn’t seem to be any audit after such events as to the success or traction. With such lack of accountability there’s wide room for such abuse. Great article, I shall share.

  11. Bystander

    Who are these people? I would like to nominate the sacred cow that is Sound City. Built entirely on the backs of unpaid music industry wannabes, the organisation exists entirely to enrich its two founder members. With the promise of ‘valuable’ music industry experience this organisation hoovers up grants by the barrow load, running a festival and theatre almost entirely on voluntary labour whilst making a pretty penny on the ubiquitous industry workshops. The only thing you will learn from these workshops is in this city, sadly, it’s not what but who you know.

  12. Agreed, sadly. As much as I enjoy going to Sound City, it frustrates me too.

    It clearly exists just to soak up potential grants (see its completely ridiculous new ‘tech expo’ angle and it’s ridiculous Dubai & America Sound City jollies, which must be funded to the hilt) and the fact they don’t pay local bands to play is an absolute shocker, considering the amount of cash it must generate.

    Don’t know much about the theatre, mind.

  13. Susan Wilson

    Having read your piece can I firstly say well done excellent piece, well written and accurate. As stated below Sound City yes agree having worked with local artists who perform at Sound City for FREE while Mr and Mrs P swan around the world lining their own pockets disgraceful, try and get a grant to support real artists to open a door for them and you are lucky if Mr P’s scraps allow you to. Thank you David or having the honesty to write such a piece

  14. Appreciate all your comments, and am sure people have their own particular stories and personal experiences, but just want to reiterate that we’re not talking about specific people or organisations. Cheers.

  15. david_lloyd

    Appreciate all your comments, and am sure people have their own particular stories and personal experiences they’re keen to share (all welcome), but just want to reiterate that we’re not talking about specific people or organisations. Cheers.

  16. david_lloyd

    genuinely, because it’s more about the rise in this sort of business model, and we all have our own experiences of it. It would be mean spirited to single out individuals, when the whole economic system this kind of model is based on is rotten to the core. At least, that’s my take on it. Others are free to argue against it. I think it’s up to us to all do what we can to disentangle ourselves from those who perpetuate it. And we’ll be doing our bit. Keep reading.

  17. We are living in a time of seismic change. In the past decade or so our whole approach to the production, propagation and remuneration of ideas has been turned on its head, with the emergence of a new technological lottery creating a new generation of digital winners and losers. Whilst there are unprecedented opportunities today for artists to present their offerings to the public, it seems ever more a case of “meet the old boss / same as the new boss” as far as the artist is concerned. How is it that PR pirates and rainmakers can demand a kings ransom whilst the musician, video producer and graphic designer lie shivering at the door? There’s a life to be made in ideas and in art but it seems so often that the wrong ‘uns get to live it.

  18. Klaus Joynson

    Sorry, David, but if you’re not going to name the people you are talking about, then this is pretty insiduous journalism. Either do the research on the amount of money people are getting versus their (cultural?) worth or don’t write things like this. There are plenty of institutions who people will assume you’re talking about who are blameless (e.g. Scraperwiki, whoever they are).

  19. Bold piece. Agree with most of it. Thanks for having the tenacity to write this kind of thing when most wouldn’t dare to rock the boat.

    I do think many of the people/organisations you refer to have an easy ride because of the relaxed attitude of do-ers.

    When will the photographer turn around to the publisher and say “no, I won’t work for free when your established magazine has wall to wall ads”?

    When will the band say to and events team “no, we won’t play for free as we’re not going to get anything out of the gig other than giving you kudos”?

    When will the promoter turn around to the venue owner and tell him to stop crying poverty and hand over a fair slice of the bar/lower hire cost when his/her event is bringing hundreds of people into an otherwise empty place?

    It’s cool in Liverpool to be on the left. We’re coy about cash. It’s an endearing quality, and certainly makes business more pleasurable that other parts of the country. But maybe the creatives needs to take another leaf out the leftie guide and stand together. Everyone has to start somewhere and will therefore do things for free but when established creatives/artists just bite their lip years after establishing themselves and do stuff for gratis not only are they doing themselves out of reward they’re also doing their peers out.

    It doesn’t mean everyone becomes rich over night. Many projects that are run and a loss/very little turnover, and that’s fine. It’s up to the project stakeholders to be up front and make clear what can be shared. But I honestly believe this will only come when the creatives collectively begin to ask the questions and stop taking it as given that there will be no remuneration for their input.

  20. david_lloyd

    Klaus, that’s an odd thing to say. To blame an op-ed piece about a trend in business that is so omnipresent and far-reaching that everyone recognises it as being ‘insidious’, merely because it doesn’t single out a few offenders to satiate a few readers, is to entirely miss the point. If a few jump to the wrong conclusion is it right to attack me, because i haven’t given a detailed and comprehensive list of all potential culprits? Of course not. This isn’t an investigative piece of journalism (nor have you paid to be informed by it), it’s an essay on a cultural phenomenon, a recognised device employed by writers in publications the world over: its job is to hold a mirror up to its readers and say ‘does this document sketch out something you can relate to?’. Not ‘following our investigations, we accuse party A’ – and, for the record, we’ve done plenty of that in our time too, and have stood our ground, named names and been proved right. If you think SevenStreets hasn’t got the balls to name names you obviously don’t read us enough!
    I think you’ve let bloodlust for revenge colour your expectations of this piece. For my part, it’s raised debate and put something on the agenda that has been off-radar for too long. That’s all I ever hoped it could do, and I can sleep just fine having written it (which, incidentally, probably won’t do us any favours in this small city, so if you think that’s insidious, fair enough)

  21. I think it’s a little unfair to start naming names in this comments section about who is the ‘worst offender’ or not (and I don’t think SS would approve of that anyway, because the tone of the piece is so vague as to not point the finger at anyone in particular).

    The fact is, as the article suggests, this kind if practise is prevalent across MANY MANY businesses in Liverpool, not just a certain few, or some of the bigger ones. It’s absolutely toxic.

  22. Roy McCarthy

    David, I think you’re right to keep it as a general point about the culture of our city. To name names would be harmful on a number of levels – not least because naming and shaming publications would only encourage others to look up their list of contributors and try to squeeze free work out of them. Speaking from past experience as a designer, once you’re labeled a mug by ruthless clients it’s hard to shake it off.

    I don’t think this article is insidious, I think it’s allowing the reader to think about how this place works and come to their own conclusions about what they can do to change things.

    Klaus, if you’re looking for culprits to have a finger pointed at them I reckon you probably already know who those people are – and you’re probably right – but it’s a multi-layered problem and some of those caught up in it are more than likely trying their best to keep afloat in a business that often seems impenetrable to anyone unprepared to offer free (or dirt cheap) services. You bring names into the picture and you end up selling out the good with the bad.

    I think the article is a great conversation opener.

  23. Squiff

    Hmm. I think you are making the mistake of assuming everyone is on the take. It is not all about consumer PR.

    How are journalists able to tell their readers about things if they aren’t kept up to speed with the latest developments? You have to be in the room to do that and in order to be in the room the PR people have to tell you where the room is. If they don’t then you can’t pass on the message. Simples.

    Sometimes it’s a worthy message, but don’t think the Justice Collective were too humble to have a rampant Londoncentric PR machine because they did.

    Are you suggesting that it’s better to cut and paste old facts from the Mail Online and risk the lazy journalism tag (I imagine you like that phrase a lot) or get up early on a cold December morning, and try to find a fresh angle to help the cause?

  24. ourmaninfords

    The only ‘latest development’ was that the single was available in the shops. I’m not sure you had to be at the shop to report that. My point is about people – you, presumably – whining at your lack of an invite. You ask ‘How are journalists able to tell their readers about things if they aren’t kept up to speed with the latest developments?’ Perhaps interviewing somebody who was at Hillsborough or who lost someone there would have been an option. Little in the way of opportunity to hobnob with the various has-beens at HMV there though. The single wasn’t the story, it was there to draw attention to the story. In 1992 a local unfunded magazine spoke to families and survivors and revealed everything that was ‘revealed’ by the bishop, Scraton et al 20 years later. Nobody paid us, we didn’t wait for an invitation and there were no PR companies on hand to supply us with ‘the story’. We were local, culturally and politically engaged writers. And we would never ever have used the word ‘simples’. Though we would certainly have applied the word ‘simple’ to you. And your ilk, accurately described in the original article.

  25. As well as these organisations thoroughly taking the piss, the young (and sometimes older) independent traders and creatives of the world need to stand up and refuse to do work of this type. I say world, not city, as it is a problem that is far bigger than Liverpool that is eating away at the creative industries from the inside. It isn’t just PR or big companies either, it is supposedly helpful internship programmes run by the industry itself that pay less than minimum wage to graduates desperate for a break.

    From the ground up we need to learn to say ‘no’ because none of these companies / organisations could run without the people they exploit. It’s just a shame that there may always be someone standing in line behind you willing to say ‘yes’.

  26. Moneybags Tsars

    This is the insidious business model that everyone has bought into. From the Work Programme where a prime contractor is paid billions to “get people into work” and then proceeds to insist Geology Graduates stack shelves rather than leaving them in a voluntary Museum role. To the bottom feeders of the Liverpool Arts scene. There are PR and Events organisers who would not even recognise the Brewery let alone organise anything in it. Which harms everybody. Graduates no longer stay in Liverpool: they have a loan to pay off and the Arts will not pay the bills. Much more the Sciences. But the Arts are more articulate about complaining. Then there are the predators whose sole purpose is to get something for nothing. From the Cafes and Bars giving “a weeks trial to see how you get on” (including those who report people to the DWP if they cotton on and say “stuff it”) to the “Urban Planning Consultants”. Who crowdsource consent to rubberstamp existing decisions.

    The truth is, Liverpool Arts Scene is dominated – like much of the rest of Liverpool’s economic sectors – by little cliques. Big fish in a little pond. They promote the business model with a smile and their hand in your pocket. If that happens to kill off an innovative theatre company that raised (and then spent) its own money then that can be explained away. Objecting to this is not about being left wing but being practical. There is no point in anybody with genuine talent even considering setting up in Liverpool. That is talent of any kind. Not because Liverpool is not worthwhile. Some of us came back to Liverpool after a decade making a decent living elsewhere. Because Liverpool is worthwhile.

    But that kind of sentimentality only lasts for so long. There are about two to four years for Liverpool to fix the bottom feeding parasite problem before really valuable talents actually just disappear. They will either trundle off to Glasgow or just settle into a nice little sales job in Slough or become a teaching assistant in Huyton. They will not be developing a multibillion pound economy in Liverpool. They will be scratching about for minimum wage, at best. Being a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in the pool of life: the practical thing is to be a small fish, at least you have an income.
    It is time to kill off the old guard. There are two to four years to do it. Failing that Liverpool is very much destined to return to being viewed as the provincial backwater it was pre 2005. All the navel gazing will not help. It needs decisive action.

  27. Joseph Sharples

    Good advertising sales pitch, last paragraph says it all.

    Dave, you are so squeaky clean and above everything, therefore why not name all these people who you claim do not occupy the same moral high ground as you?

    Are you afraid of meeting them at the next networking event and you won’t be able to pretend to be their affable mate any more?

    Also, who wrote your latest Fact review? Do hope it wasn’t their press officer Vicky Anderson who writes all your other arts reviews. Oddly there isn’t a name I could see.

    As you would say yourself: “Don’t believe everything you read.”

  28. Vicky Anderson doesn’t write many of our arts reviews at all, though she’s a very good writer. I’m fascinated as to why you believe this to be the case or why we’d ask a press officer to write us a review of their own exhibition.

  29. Many of them can bee seen in this charming Xmas video from Downtown Liverpool in Business (DLiB): Names: Disgraced ex-leader leader elect of Lancashire County Council and head of DLiB Frank McKenna, Roger Jonas, DLiB’s events manager, Mayor “Uncle” Joe Anderson, Max Steinberg, CEO of Liverpool Vision, Deputy Leader of Liverpool’s millitant council Derek Hatton, Lib Dem defector-turned Lord Mayor Gary Millar, Martyn Best, co-founder of PR firm PaverSmith and Maggie O’Carroll. Oh, and is that Ann O’Bryne, cabinet member for Housing at 1:20? Did I miss anybody?

  30. Just because something happens everywhere doesn’t make any more acceptable, and nor does it make it any less incumbent upon decent media to flag up offenders. The real question is why is David Lloyd so reluctant to name Frank Mckenna and his “sexy networking” business club Downtown Liverpool in Business (DLiB)? After all, the king of Liverpool’s cronies appears in the very photo attached to this article (left, above Pete Price-is-right), as do many faint allusions in the copy.

  31. If you have ever experienced any event, or been part of anything, in Liverpool, you’ll know this is ENDEMIC right across the board. There’s literally no point naming names, so it’s a waste of time trying to pull the site up on that point, because there’s so many people involved. This is the first time in the local press anyone’s bothered to talk about it, so it should be applauded.

  32. Patrick Hurley

    Tell us about these major changes you’re making. A print edition is a good move. An advertising-funded (rather than voluntary labour-funded) model is also a nice touch , provided editorial freedom. But what else is going on? You’ve got me all intrigued.

  33. I worked for Sound City. I don’t any more. I’ve never worked so hard, for so little (precisesly nothing). That’s all I want to say on the matter.

  34. Creatives can moan and groan about not getting paid for their work whether it be writing, music or art but face facts – no-one has asked you to become an ‘artist’ and a ‘creative’ and the world does not owe you a living.
    I sometimes suspect that many creative types complain that their lack of success is because of greedy bogey-middle-men when sometimes the truth is they are just not that good and they need to find something else to do to make some dough.

  35. Just saying

    I think you’ll find there was no Games Hub at this years sound city, that was last years on the website. Although the majority of games developers were asked to attend the Expo 🙂

  36. Pretty much agree with everything said in this article – but unfortunately this problem won’t be solved until the people being taken advantage of actually turn around and refuse to associate with these leeches. My particular pet hate is the whole concept of ‘pay to play’ for bands. What’s even more worrying is that some people actually defend these practices. Of course, the world doesn’t owe anybody a living – but people are getting very fat off the hard work of others and have engineered a system where unless you’re plucked from the basket by somebody from the outside, you’re going nowhere.

  37. Tony Schumacher

    I was invited to a “gallery” opening once, when i asked who the painter was the person inviting me said “I don’t know, but Pete Price will be going.”
    He might have, but I didn’t.
    Sad thing is, I know my failure to attend these events is holding back my career as a writer, and my ability to make money from it.
    I’m getting tired of the whole affair to be honest.

  38. Sonic The Hedgehog

    Exactly – There was no Games Hub because no Liverpool game developers were asked (this year). Both the website and emails sent out for 2013 mentioned the Games Hub, so that’s misleading or you are mistaken.

  39. Of course nobody is owed a living, if you’re not a ‘good’ artist you won’t get paid to work just as if you’re not a good plumber neither will you.

    However if you’re good at what you do, be that at plumbing or painting you should be paid well for your services. People seem to expect art or design to be free in a way that they would never expect of non-creative industries, that’s the comment to be made.

    Furthermore it’s about nepotism, funding and PR, if we keep going with the plumbing story then a plumber who works hard and does a good job gets recommendations and gets the meritocratic reward for his/her work, in the creative industry it seems that there’s a barrier in the form of the chummy top-brass who leech all of the funding contracts and inevitably create a watered down version of whatever is having underground success, pushing the initial creator of the idea back to the drawing board without the praise or reward that they’d truly earned.

    Nobody is owed a living but even a hint of a meritocratic system would do the city a world of good.

  40. Anonymous

    For goodness sake grow up, wake up and smell the coffee. Unless you are prepared to engage fully in local politics and turn up to every consultation meeting, then organise and start putting in your own bids for funding, the Regeneration Vampires will always suck you dry. They are literate, well connected sociopaths who form an exclusive club which you are never going to be allowed to join.

    To beat them you must learn to be as amoral and savage as they are, and be willing to tear them apart in every way possible.

    And don’t imagine that the “checks & balances” of democracy have any control over these people, nor that they have any moral inhibitions. They have friends who will cover up for them every time. They may exhibit all the tearful anguish of a fully paid-up bleeding heart liberal, but these are crocodile tears. They are out for themselves and have no interest whatsoever in the eventual consequences of their actions upon the communities they descend upon.

    These amoral elites are able to operate without challenge because you and we let them. Even though they can cause catastrophe in one place, they easily get into similar roles elsewhere because no one checks up on their claims of success. And once these people are in place in various culture / regeneration bodies they support each other, and close out the local community.

    Now if you want to challenge them, it’s not a matter of being angry and demonstrating. It’s a matter of going through every proposal with a fine tooth comb and challenging everything they propose. And when they don’t answer, you go back and back until they do or they provide you with enough evidence to be able to go to the next level. And then you carry on, line by line, challenge by challenge. Force them to deal with complexity of economics, they wont like it at all.

    This approach works because these people can deal with the angry emotions, but they can deal with quiet constant challenge. For the most part they are vacuous glad-handers whose status is based on obsequiousness and not on any real creative talent.

  41. Jayne Casey

    Great article spot on …I have a word that I turn to all the time – it sums up my 40 years working in this city I might have it engraved onto my tombstone….. Adverb… REGARDLESS… xx

  42. garrilla

    So, in summary. There are a bunch of PR, Networking & Marketing types who mugging artists, creative, graduates and venues with their you-scratch-my-back-while-I-count-my-money business models. Do us a favour 😉

  43. Klaus Joynson

    Sorry David, but nonsense. I’ve seen the equivalent of this piece for many years now. “I’m not going to name names, but…” Do you know the names to which you are blatantly alluding to or do you not? Are you avoiding naming names because you wouldn’t dare, because your ass would be sued out of existence? Would they be right to sue you out of existence because you are alluding to something that you can’t prove? In which case, you should not be saying, or alluding to this stuff, in the first place.
    “Bloodlust for revenge”? Seriously? Defending an article which epitomises it?

    And the defence of “op-ed piece” has been rightly confined to the dustbin ever since the Iraq invasion. People like facts and evidence these days. “This isn’t an investigative piece of journalism.” You’re right.

    And meanwhile there are still loads of people here in the comments throwing out names. Well done.

  44. Klaus Joynson

    No, I genuinely do not know who to wave my finger at. Sound City? No, because they do a genuinely great event. Bido Lito? No, because their magazine is genuinely great (which I’ve contributed to, as I have to Seven Streets). If there’s something beneath what I see on the surface of this then I want to hear the story, with facts.

  45. You either have proof and demonstrate it or ask the question. This piece does neither. It wants people to believe this malaise to be the situation based on what a amounts to suspicions rather than hard evidence which naming would have demonstrated. To hide behind the idea it is an “op ed” piece is wrong (quite aside from the fact that an editor writing an op-ed piece doesn’t make sense – it’s an editorial surely? In fact you refer to “we” in the comments) Op-ed/editorial pieces are not an excuse to raise unsubstantiated claims or pass off rumour and suggestion as fact. (My own suspicions are that many claims are true and could be backed up with evidence, but that hasn’t happened here).

    It’s disingenuous to say it’s not naming names because it wants to highlight the broader issue whilst layering the piece with so much nose-tapping “in the know” comments and phrases it is close to being part of its own circle jerk. It’s a good(ish) piece raising a much needed debate about a section of this city’s economy that needs examining, but in parts just feels like old scores are trying to be settled and personal beefs being aired. “Not talking about specific people or organisations” – to a lot of readers you clearly are, you’re just not naming them.

    There will be those who welcome the piece as airing an issue long-ignored (I do myself to a degree) and say “yeah, about time – that’ll show ’em”. Many of them will be oblivious to the fact that they are part of the problem I’m sure. But unless it clearly identifies the parties involved and provides concrete identifiable examples of the practices outlined without resorting to sideswipes, then it surely fails in its aim? Which is sad because the issue needs exploring.
    I await the next instalment eagerly…

  46. Tim Tapling

    Council are experts .. ‘The Hamilton Quarter’ took £85 million of EU funding to create an Arts
    District based around Hamilton Square it was a 7year project . Lasting legacy .. NIL …
    explanation as to what the funding was used for .. NIL … all ventures
    created are now closed.. inc a £1.5 million Arts Centre which has been
    asset stripped .

    All the Council Officers involved have either retired or moved on .. having spent the money on ‘grandiose projects and events’ .. that ‘they’ thought up over coffee , without any local arts or musical organisations having had any input or benefiting … this funding if spent on creating small grants to the local arts community / business’s to sustain or support their work and projects … might have delivered some lasting benefit .

    Spending it on pressure cleaning the stonework of privately owned buildings on Hamilton Square and ‘trafffic’ controls which have essentially killed the Square ??

    Typical council really .. lacking any accountability or apparently any joined up thinking !

    This type of funding is a scam .. and delivers nothing
    except a ghost town ….

    oh .. and some nice gardens for the addicts and alcoholics to party in at night .

  47. You’re right that the world doesn’t owe *anybody* a living, but that’s besides the point – the way this economy has been engineered means that Liverpool itself is in danger of becoming a dead-zone for economic activity for creatives. Of course in the long run you’re free to argue that this is just the free market at work: if nobody wants to pay for something, then fair enough – but the issue is that people still obviously place SOME value on the work of creatives (or they wouldn’t ask them to provide entertainment / art / whatever) – just obviously not enough to actually pay for their time and effort.

    Until the victims start putting a price-tag on their time and effort, this situation will continue. In an ideal world these leeches would actually do the decent thing and offer to pay for people’s services, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. Refusal to work for free is what’s needed.

    Until people lose this stigma around money for creativity (‘oh I don’t do it for the money!’) they will continue to perpetuate this false economy. You might not do it for the money, but the people after your services for free ARE doing it for the money. If you really don’t care about the money, then donate it to charity after you’ve been paid. Don’t work for free unless you’re really keen to support whoever it is you’re working for. People need to learn how to say ‘no’.

  48. Thanks for replying to that point, Klaus. I guessed you’d also suffered the typical fate of the Liverpool creative and had someone in mind. I’ve got no idea how Sound City or Bido Lito organise their affairs, so can’t disagree with you there.

  49. As someone who has *been* the ‘unpaid’ PR person/gal-about-town who wrote articles solely so that they would appear in newspapers thus upping our clients’ column inches, (for which I did get paid, though by my boss via our client thanks very much) I can honestly say that this article is spot on. It doesn’t need to name names.

    Although, I was a journalist first, which is why my boss put me on that account. As the article states, there’s not really much money in being the actual journalist, hence the vicious circle of doom. This ended up being the only way I could get serious money for being published – and the byline was never mine, the sub-editor got that glory.

    I knew it was my writing though. Does that count?

    Oh, and it wasn’t in Liverpool that I did this either. This is rife nationwide, not just Liverpool, and it’s not a new thing. I started in Liverpool when I was 15. I used to write articles for the Merseyside Observer, Groove and L:Scene in return for using their name to get free gig tickets. This was 20 years ago, so the most critical thing I can say about this article is “Bit late, aren’t ya?” 😉


    Why is there no demand for public audit of such misappropriation of funds??? Seems that the same names are coming up on this thread from wide variety of people. This is to the determent of the city. Opportunities should be equal. And should be audited and accountable and transparent. it’s really rather criminal……….

  51. Gerry Corner

    You talk about publications that “exist to throw pop-up adverts about dog racing in your face”. Of course, you don’t say who you mean but, as you must know, the “dog racing” comment could only refer to one publication. Vicky Anderson, in her column elsewhere on this site, clearly knows who you are trashing.

    So when you say “we’re not talking about specific people or organisations”, is this a lie? If so, it’s not a good starting point for a piece about “Mr Smoke and Mr Mirror” (perhaps you are not as saintly as you imply).

    Let’s pretend you were trying to be discreet rather than plain spineless in being not quite ambiguous enough. Your comment, however indirectly, calls into question the character and motives of that publication’s editor and I am not prepared to allow your weasel words to go unanswered.

    Yes, I have an interest; I write for the publication in question and the editor you impugn happens to be my best friend, and I take great pride in being closely connected with the most honest, upright, incorruptible journalist I have known. Indeed, her integrity has cost her dear in previous jobs in journalism. Jobs where she could have just taken the money and the promotion but could not bring herself to keep her mouth shut when she knew things were not being done the way they should be

    She fights for this city, is not afraid to speak out, even to the extent of being effectively blacklisted, more than once, by the city council, and along the way has won several great victories for the ordinary people of Liverpool. That’s what I call “producing real things”.

    Don’t take my word for it; Vicky Anderson describes the publication in question as “impartial, educated, entertaining and trustworthy”. Those are not qualities displayed by a website that exists “to throw pop-up adverts about dog racing in your face”.

    She has imbued the site with these qualities not by being superior and sniping and negative but by constant striving for the highest standards and acting always
    with humour and positivity and huge passion.

    Wherever people show these sort of strengths, there are those who, either through envy or insecurity, or perhaps for their own profit, will try to bring them

    She has never sunk to the level of criticising Seven Streets. And, no, she has not put me up to this. She will, doubtless, be utterly horrified when she sees what I have one, but I could not stand by and allow someone who is one of this city’s genuine pluses to be treated in such a shabby way.

  52. david_lloyd

    much as I’d hate to disappoint you and your blood lust, Gerry, if youre looking for an editor on editor fight here, you’ve come to the wrong place. I have nothing against Angie (look! a name! strike me down in flames). Unless I’m very much mistaken, much of LivCon’s advertising comes from the Confidential stable: if it were not so, why would the latest pop up on Liverpool Confidential be of a Manc restaurant (and many of the site’s offers similar?). No, this isn’t about the foot soldiers and those in the front line – heavens knows it’s hard enough for us to do our job. Sorry if that wasn’t explicitly clear. I hope now it’s even more clear that the real problem is found further upstream. See also other orgs named in the comments.

  53. Anonymous

    As a former public sector investigating officer into allegations of corruption, going back to the early 1990’s, such as this the issue of evidence is at the heart of the matter. Both prosecutions and public allegations of wrong doing require hard evidence, but the problems are; 1. much of it will be circumstantial, 2. the perpetrators often ensure that there is no paper trail leading to their door, 3. witnesses are often too scared of long term unemployment after giving statements or whistleblowing, 4. many key decision makers are too obsessed with managing the wider public image and would rather bury bad news than deal with it, even it means criminals walking away often with cash payouts to keep quiet.

    Even the investigating team members can find their careers halted simply for doing their jobs in the public interest – who wants a nark whose loyalty is primarily to the law on the team? who wants someone on the team who knows where all the skeletons are hidden?

    Approximately 20 yrs ago I led an investigation into corruption, in a major high profile regeneration initiative, valued in the millions. The architect of the corruption should have been nailed, but walked away to create a catastrophe elsewhere and then walked away to a senior role in the civil service. Over the last decade his annual income has not fallen below £220,000 p.a. His associates in the earlier corruption have enjoyed opportunities denied to others, given their ineptitude. Sadly the political interest groups have argued privately that they cannot afford to make this public because of the potential damage to be done to organisations / political parties, and so the perpetrator walks.
    The above was clear criminality. But in most instances the issue is not of crime but bad practices. How many times does a senior manager hire an expensive consultant who arrives, harvests the ideas & experiences of the staff and then presents it nicely packed to the senior manager as the consultant’s innovative research & thinking? But when do we ask whether the senior manager is fit hold his or her position is he or she is unaware that the staff have the very ideas required to make the necessary change? We never do, because it is not in the interests of the snr mgmt or the consultant to encourage such questionning. Even if the org has staff surveys, the outcomes are far too frequently managed to present positives to the outside world and no one hears that staff are frustrated by the lack of recognition. The same applies to service reviews, the bad news is almost never presented to the public and evidence of failure is suppressed.

  54. PR Puffenstuff

    Interesting article but it strikes me as a very long-winded sales pitch to announce you are now up for taking advertising.

    Nothing wrong with that. If you want to start making a few quid, good luck to you.

    It’s just a shame that in order to run this advert you find it necessary to shove in a badly veiled dig at another site, who, as far as I can see, have the same aim of promoting the best the city has to offer and which endeavours to cut through the spin and PR Puffs with an independent view. There is surely room for both. Your publication is more of a What’s On and Reviews rather than journalistic and you have taken up or lifted many issues raised on those other sites, so if often fighting for the same cause, why bother to make comments that can only lead to fighting amongst yourselves? Have you looked at the Echo recently? The way they carry on, how they present the culture of the city and act as cheer leaders for developers and the Culturatti Mafia?

    If you now have issues with the way the usual suspects conduct themselves, the gathering of the cliques who try to monopolise and take credit for Liverpool Culture but who actually serve to strangle anything independent, then you should be open about the examples. Readers and commenters appear to have drawn their own conclusions about who you are aiming at, so you are left either having to respond with Oh no not them or silence, which will have people thinking you did mean them.

    Although if one of the problems is that you have not been invited to some recent events and maybe feel overlooked, well I wouldn’t worry about it. I am sure you don’t need to have a photo taken with Pete Price. You are better than that.

    But anyway, for an advertisement piece it has got noticed, so well done and we look forward to the coming changes.

  55. Vicky_Anderson

    For the sake of clarity, hello everybody, here I am. I’m not a V or a Vicky or anyone else commenting below the lines on either of these stories. Have signed up to Disqus so you can see my little face and my full name and it’ll be clearer moving forward.

    I would hardly put my name to a piece and then go sniping a contrary opinion under an alias on the same site (much the same as I would not be daft enough to even contemplate reviewing an exhibition I am paid to promote). Would have hoped that would all go without saying, but clearly not!

  56. david_lloyd

    no. Sorry, we’re not saying that. At all. As will become clear soon enough. And we’re not a what’s on site. Where are these listings you talk about on our site? We’re an opinion site. And we’re proud of that. Very few people have them these days. And those who do are in our gang. Our next Almanac – out 24 July, will explain it all.

  57. Why is everything due to be made clear or explained in the future?
    You should try to aim for clarity in the articles as It saves misunderstandings. I see you got another advert in though. You’ll make a success of this yet.

    Can you advise me on setting up a What’s On site if you are not going to do it any more?

  58. david_lloyd

    a) because we like theatre

    b) have we?

    c) just do it.

    (supplementary d) did you really think we were a What’s on site? That upsets us.

  59. I’m sorry, no upset intended. I know you do other stuff but it’s what individual readers take from the site. Some things will be of interest others will not. Of course there is an element of What’s On. You write about and point towards upcoming events.
    What’s wrong with that ?
    If it was all What’s Been On then I would have already missed it.

    Anyway, to smooth the waters and stay friends I am not going to compete by launching a What’s On or even a What’s Been On site, so no more talk about your gang, we have enough problems in the city without getting gangs involved.

    I’ll wait for the Almanac. Here’s a thought though, since you are called Seven Streets why not re-launch it as Old Moorefields Almanac? Which would be a clever play on the Streets theme. You can have that idea free. I won’t try and claim royalties.

    See what can be achieved if we work together instead of bickering? I reckon a re-branding like that will cause a sensation. Mind you, you can pay me for the idea if you want.

  60. I am not her and she is not me. We are not ‘V’.

    Just so you know.

    Although, if I am the ‘anyone else commenting below’ in question, I would like to say that I do not tend to ‘go sniping…’ 🙂 I do like to proffer opinion if I feel I have something to say. If that differs from someone else’s opinion I would not consider it ‘snipey’ to say so.

    ‘Vicky’ would also be the shittest alias ever for someone called Vicky, let alone for someone who is a creative by trade.

  61. Vicky_Anderson

    Sorry Vicky, I just had to make it clear as I’ve had people I know
    if I’m either one of you. This normally wouldn’t be a thing but in
    these circs could be a problem. The sniping referred to the comment that
    has been removed.

    From your comments, you and I have so many
    very specific things in common even my closest friend thought you were
    me and I’d taken to slagging off my current boss in a public forum,
    which obviously wouldn’t be a smart move on my part.

  62. Vicky_Anderson

    Slagging off was probably too harsh a term to use – but you voiced frustrations with your set up that are, quite unbelievably, extremely similar to mine at the moment. Like I said I normally wouldn’t flatter myself anyone would be looking so closely as for it to become an issue, but turns out a lot of people are reading all the comments on this story quite carefully!

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