Chat With Cllr Harry Doyle at Liverpool City Council – Liverpool For Eurovision

We were beside ourselves this week when we heard the news that Liverpool is down to the final two in the bid to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2023. The UK was chosen to host the 2023 contest after organisers decided it could not be staged by this year’s winner, Ukraine. We caught up with Cllr Harry Doyle, Assistant Mayor of Liverpool and Cabinet Member for Culture & Visitor Economy about the bid and what it could mean for the city region.

Hi Harry, we had very exciting news this week! What has your role been in the Liverpool bid for Eurovision?

“My portfolio does exactly what it says on the tin. Culture. I have the responsibility of ensuring Liverpool’s rich cultural credentials are sustained and developed, making our city the most exciting city in the UK, if not the world.

“I am a massive Eurovision fan and ever since the moment the EBU and BBC announced that the UK would play host on behalf of Ukraine, I sprang into action and immediately put plans in place to make sure we would be a strong contender, particularly as we were clear from the offset that this would be a unique Eurovision and we would deliver an event and cultural programme working alongside our twin city, Odesa.

“I am so lucky to have such a fantastic and dedicated team at Culture Liverpool, led by the remarkable Claire McColgan CBE. Our in-house bid team has been truly phenomenal, pulling everything that we’ve needed together. My proudest moment so far has to be meeting with the Deputy Mayor of Odesa and sharing our heartfelt solidarity with their city who are completely behind our bid. It’s also helped that I am such a massive Eurovision fan because I’ve not held back singing on radio and TV. Although that may work against us!”

How did it feel to get down to the final two, did you expect this?

I don’t do complacency, but I’m not shocked we’re in the final two. I know in my heart that our bid not only ticks all the boxes, but it has heart and soul. 

“Our city sells itself. Our connections with music and our record on social justice, peace and unity is unrivaled and so naturally, I think Liverpool is the perfect home for Eurovision. 

“Plus, we have an award-winning events team that can run huge events in the city, and showed the world how to party post-pandemic when the Government asked us to run the events research programme. Liverpool will most definitely pull together to deliver an exceptional Eurovision.”

So what happens next – how will the final decision be made?

“As part of the bidding process, judges looked at venues, transport links, funding and past experience of hosting major events. The Eurovision Song Contest is a very complex event and we, along with Glasgow obviously had the strongest overall offer, so we’re now continuing those discussions with the BBC and the EBU – and hope to hear in the next couple of weeks.”

Eurovision has deep ties with LGBT+ people. Liverpool has a diverse and vibrant LGBT+ community and is also home to the Pride Quarter, which was the UK’s first formally recognised LGBT+ area. Do you think this synergy will support our ongoing bid?

Liverpool is an inclusive city and I’m so proud of our Pride Quarter. A lot of hard work and dedication has gone into making the Pride Quarter happen and of course it will be a natural haven for many Eurovision delegates and fans should it take place in the city next year.”

What will hosting Eurovision mean for the city as a whole?

“Hosting Eurovision next year would be so huge for our city and city region. We’ve estimated a £12-16m immediate economic impact during the weeks Eurovision takes place, but most importantly, going over 10 years of data from in-person Eurovision events, the host city has on average seen a 5-15% increase on visitor numbers over a 5-year period. This would be huge for the city given we are so heavily reliant on the visitor economy to support over 45,000 jobs across the city region. 

“Crucially though, as we are the only city twinned with a Ukrainian city, I think the importance of us stepping up and giving a platform for Odesa in what will be a truly unique and special Eurovision is something our city is ready to do and deliver. Scousers and adopted scousers are people with pride. To be able to do this for Odesa would be an honour.”

How can people get behind the next phase of the bidding process?

“People can get behind us by sharing as much of pro-Liverpool content online as possible, voting in every online poll you come across, and lobbying any celebs you may know to come out and back our bid. We need to make as much noise as possible!”

Personally, who has been your favourite Eurovision act of all time?

“I know this isn’t a popular answer, but Scooch was the first year I watched Eurovision and, being an aviation enthusiast and loving the campness of flying the flag, I couldn’t think of anything more me! Honourable mentions though to Conchita Wurst, Alexander Rybak, Loreen and of course our own Sam Ryder, who I can’t stop singing. I bloody love Sonia too who represented the UK before I was born, but  after meeting her, I have Better the Devil You Know on repeat!”

Stay up to date with the latest on the bid to host Eurovision 2023 here.

 

 

 

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