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Sharing Stories From The City

Illustration: Jemma Timberlake / jemmatimberlake.co.uk

Community is an integral part of our shared Liverpool identity. The old adage goes that Liverpool is a village. Where does this come from? Well, it’s the idea we know each other. A Liverpool rite of passage is to sit over a drink and work out the shared contacts you have. Our friendliness is something we are proud of, we look out for each other, we know about each other. We never walk alone.

And yet, while community might be part of this ideal we hold ourselves to, there is also a tendency to see community as something not quite as culturally challenging. Within our cultural sector, we know it is harder for artists from the city to exhibit alongside international artists. Community art is akin, in some forums, to lowest common denominator. It is an audience we know we have to talk to and engage with, but also, is there a sense we don’t see it as our peers.

This couldn’t be further from the truth at some cultural organisations, where community is part and parcel of their identity and their values. It doesn’t diminish the quality of their art or output, indeed it enriches it.

In 2019, the grand dame of The Florrie celebrates its 130th birthday. Its history is rich and varied. In fact it is rooted in how you can create an organisation that can make a city better, that can improve the lives of those who live in it who need the support most. In 2012, the Florrie reopened its doors having been campaigned for and saved for over 20 years by its local community. The Florrie could easily rest on its laurels and be a place that looks back on the contribution it has made and to wallow in nostalgia. It does anything but. Adventurous, forward thinking and always working to make every individual part and parcel of its present and future, the Florrie has much to teach us.

In the latest episode of the Bido Lito! Arts and Culture podcast we hear from the Florrie and how community throbs through its very foundations.

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