Before we get to our own rundown of what 2011 had in store, we’ve gone and picked a handful of people to quiz about the city’s highlights these past 12 months. These are promoters, artists, writers, organisers and just plain great people who we’ve covered on the site, and who contribute in some way to a city that’s consistently creative, thrilling, and one we’re hugely proud of.

First up are local creative agency and event-putter-onners Mercy, who’ve this year brought us slightly mental X Ray vinyl records, boozy cross-country internet karaoke and Liverpool’s brightest young arts talent. What a bunch of show offs.

The city’s been packed with rather brilliant events and goings on this year. What were your personal highlights?

Gemma Germains: Honestly, I missed everything spectacular this year. I missed that projection mapping thing at the docks, I missed almost all of AND including the Pigs Bladder Football salons and The Kazimier thing, I’ve still not managed to get over to Alice In Wonderland at Tate and I’m gutted I missed the Club Geek Chic 80s night (right) and Tranny Hotel. We did the AND launch which was fantastic and our EVP event which closed The Bluecoat’s Chapter and Verse was mind bending, especially the Tuvian throat singing. Actually, I managed to see Bryony Kimmings’ piece about contracting an STD at The Bluecoat, that was very very good, especially the bit where she sellotaped the audience’s pubes to her top lip.

Nathan Jones: The AND Festival was right wicked. Particularly the ZEE exhibition in FACT (above), the best queezy time ever. Brilliant too see John O’Shea emerge into the limelight with his Pigs Bladder Football project, and to be involved doing the design for him. Also, we really loved the Liverpool Music Week closing party, which we contributed to in a small way with our Steven Fowler commmission, and then had a ball. Catching all those acts, especially the guitar orchestra scored by Jon Davies, and Ex Easter Island Head’s new material, and Outfit too… it was awesome. Also we like Samizdat in general, he’s groovy. And going in the pubs in Liverpool’s excellent “pub quarter”, The Belvidere, The Calidonia, The Grapes, The Philharmonic, The Crack, Peter Kavs…

And how about professional highlights? Was there anything you were
particularly chuffed with?

Gemma: Professionally, the fact that we managed to not only stay afloat, but to grow in such tough conditions was a highlight in itself. My own personal highlight has probably been the Young Pines project where we’ve given a group of students and recent graduates the practical and financial support to create and manage their own projects. I could stand on my soap box for days preaching about the unpleasantness of unpaid design internships, but I won’t because it’s tired. Instead, we’re trying to instill the Young Pines with a sense of their own personal value, even at an early stage of their careers.

Nathan: We liked taking our new live writing project out on the road to raves and parties. Doing visuals for Black Dog at the Sheffield Park Hill flats was wizzo. Just running the Overlap programme in general was great fun, and really interesting to be jamming these writing/technological disciplines at a time when the scene, internationally, is really expanding. Getting drunk with Sam Meech and singing Dancing In The Street across Skype with the Glitch Karaoke (below) folk in London was cool too.
What do you think the city could have done without this year?

Gemma: Desperate Scousewives, plain and simple. We’ve brought a lot of people to the city for the first time this year, and each time they’ve been gobsmacked by how beautiful and vibrant the city is. A programme like this, no matter how low the viewing figures are, paints the city, and it’s natives in a shocking light. Pointless, vacuous commercially obsessed jizz. Saying that, it’s taking me longer and longer to switch off every time I flick onto it.

Nathan: The Bluecoat laying off its performance/literature team. That was a bummer. Fucking Sainsbury’s on top of Bold Street. Tescos everywhere. Desperate Scousewives. People moaning about places that are actually shit closing. So-called liberals calling for children to be beaten and imprisoned for expressing a dissatisfaction with the status-quo. And waiting. We don’t like waiting.

If you had to recommend one thing for our readers to check out before 2012 rears its head, what would it be?

Gemma: I’ve been so wrapped up in work I’ve NOT SEEN A SINGLE THING. I could do with a few recommendations myself. (I’m very excited about going to Chester Zoo’s Winter Wonderland on 23rd December, does that count?)

Nathan: Young Pines exhibition (below) at the Art and Design Academy. Really solid show by our interns, transcending anything we could have expected of them… makes you tingle and smirk and feel all funny.

So, next year. Anything in particular you’re looking forward to?

Gemma: Titanic will be amazing, I’m excited to see what happens with The Florrie and the next Young Pines exhibition promises to be extremely ambitious. In the studio, we’re going to be launching a new product with The Conran Shop and I think the Olympics are going to be a very exciting time for us arts-wise. 2012 is already looking great.

Nathan: Lots. Er… a new QR codes project with Scott Spencer, a walking-tour play-installation in the Welsh Streets with Laurence Payot, a new online comic by Luke Kennard, a UK tour of Electronic Voice Phenomena, hopefully working with Anat Ben David, Emma Bennet and Sam Meech again, and something at the Biennial where everyone gets pissed and does screwfaces. We’re also really proud to be hosting Mark Greenwood’s 48 hour durational performance exploring the body as a site of/for inscription, in March.

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