Letter to Mike Storey, Leader of Liverpool City Council.

from the following Liverpool writers:

John Fay, (Coronation Street, Clocking Off, Kirkby Response Theatre),

Carmel Morgan, (Coronation Street, Royle Family; Trustee of Liverpool Festival of Comedy),

Roy Boulter, (Brookside, Hollyoaks; former member of The Farm; director of Hurricane Films.


15th December 2003.

Dear Mike,

We are writing to express our dismay on hearing of the threat to the future of The Picket on Hardman Street and its associated recording studios. We don’t have to go into just why Liverpool can’t afford to lose such a vital asset ­ you are well aware of its work. We’ve read quotes from you stating “It would be a great shame if it was to close” and calling it “a powerhouse for new up and coming talent.” However, you must recognise that the reduction in the council’s funding to the People’s Centre has indirectly led to the situation. Therefore, in your role as leader of the council, we believe it is your absolute responsibility to do all that you can to ensure that this “powerhouse” doesn’t close.

This means providing more than mere words of support. We have read about the millions of pounds of investment that the Capital of Culture award is supposed to be bringing to the city. Let’s not mince words. If all this money destined for Merseyside is genuinely meant to be supporting and encouraging the arts and cultural industries, then the closure of The Picket would expose the “Capital of Culture” as a completely hypocritical sham. Anyone of any integrity would be too embarrassed to even utter the phrase without a note of scorn in their voice.

The Picket has helped and nurtured many writers and musicians like us in the twenty-odd years of its existence, and now we believe it’s time for us to return some of that support. We want 2008 to be a celebration of Liverpool art and culture as much as you do. But we don’t believe it can be any such thing, unless it includes the work of The Picket. We would be grateful if you could write back outlining the steps you are taking to prove your financial and political commitment to the future of the Picket.

In particular we would like you to reassure us that you are putting the maximum amount of pressure possible on Bob Braddock and the management committee of The People’s Centre. We want Liverpool City Council, the Arts Council, the Capital of Culture, and all other interested parties to make it clear to them that the Hardman Street buildings cannot be just sold off to the property speculator with the highest bid UNLESS that bid guarantees the future of The Picket and Pinball Wizard recording studios. The Capital of Culture has caused property prices to rocket. If that encouraged a hard-pressed organisation to “realise its assets,” which then resulted in a vital cultural asset being closed down and turned into luxury flats, that wouldn’t be merely a cruel irony, it would be an absolute scandal. We cannot allow that to happen! It’s up to us to realise our real assets as a city, and defend them to the hilt.

We would also like to be satisfied that you are doing everything in your power to help find the funds that might be needed by any consortium that was looking to save the Picket. If there is any money around as a result of the Capital of Culture, far better for some of it to go to a resource with a demonstrable track record and a long established commitment to the cultural life of the city, rather than the fly-by-nights, consultants and PR exercises that so often seem to surround these kind of events. Other cities might just shrug their shoulders, and accept the death of The Picket as a foregone conclusion. But we won’t give up without a fight. We believe there will be many angry writers, artists and musicians who owe a debt of gratitude to The Picket, and who won’t stand by and watch the city celebrate its culture by destroying its cultural assets. We hope you will be as angry as we are about the threat to The Picket, and hopefully we will be able to work together on this. We look forward to hearing what action you are taking in defence of the Picket before we decide what our next step should be.

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