Double blow for Liverpool culture and tourism

Liverpool's tourism industry has been dealt a major set back with the cancellation of its first boat show event and closure of a contemporary art gallery.

Marine Industry Events, the organiser of the 2011 Liverpool Boat Show, announced on Monday the event will be cancelled.

Marine Industry Events cited the effects of the economic climate in the leisure marine sector impacting on exhibitor take-up for the event and said the integrity of the long term potential for a major boat show in Liverpool needed to be protected.

Rob Mackenzie, managing director of Marine Industry Events, said: "Our decision is obviously appalling news and it has been an extremely difficult decision to take, not least because of the enormous sense of responsibility and partnership we feel for everyone in Liverpool.

"The city council and its corporate partners, British Waterways, Liverpool Marina, Albert Dock Liverpool and the local sailing community have worked very hard to support this project.

"The failure and the financial loss and its consequences is MIE's to bear alone, but it is better to cancel the show to protect Liverpool's reputation rather than to allow exhibitors who booked in good faith and visitors who would have travelled from all over the country in expectation of the participation of brands who'd made late decisions not to take part.

"More than anything else, we've cancelled the show to protect the integrity of what we know to be the enormous long term potential for a major Boat Show in Liverpool."

The Liverpool Boat Show was launched 18 months ago and had support from many of the major marine brands.

Mackenzie said, during the period, more than 300 prospective exhibitors, sponsors and partners visited Liverpool's world famous waterfront and were astounded by the city's extraordinary renaissance, the quality of the facilities and the vast potential of its waterspace for a major new marine event.

Mackenzie added that the enthusiasm rapidly translated into "a strong groundswell of contracted and in-principle exhibitor support" across a broad cross-section of the leisure marine industry.

However, from late November 2010, Mackenzie said market sentiment about the economic outlook deteriorated rapidly affecting confidence in boat manufacturers, dealers, smaller retailers and traders.

Mackenzie said the "negative trend" accelerated sharply in late January, with many contracted exhibitors citing a commercially disastrous London Boat Show as the catalyst for their decisions to withdraw from Liverpool.

Mackenzie added: "So many of the marine industry's key players and its press have now seen and understood the unique possibilities of a Liverpool Boat Show, and it is only the consequence of disastrous market conditions which have forced the industry to draw back from embracing the concept fully.

"That long term prize will now fall to organisations other than MIE to deliver. After a period of reflection, and when the market improves, I believe the industry will collectively recognise the strategic opportunity missed and Liverpool will eventually stage the uniquely vibrant boat show we have tried so very hard to bring to the city."

Discussions between Liverpool City Council and other local partners have now started on whether an alternative event can be staged, but Marine Industry Events will have no further involvement in this process.

Max Steinberg, chief executive of economic development company, Liverpool Vision, said: "We have already started to consider what we can do to minimise the economic impact of the cancellation of the Liverpool Boat Show.

"There has already been significant investment by MIE and British Waterways in establishing world-class berthing and staging facilities and we intend to use them to the city's best advantage.

"In addition to the permanent pontoon legacy, strong foundations for future large maritime events have been laid. Over the course of the last 15 months, MIE brought more than 300 marine businesses and marine specialist press to visit Liverpool.

"Their collective response has been overwhelmingly positive, from Liverpool's facilities, to the city's willingness to support such events as well as the robust way in which so many of our private sector companies were prepared to join co-promotional partnerships with major boating brands to the benefit of Liverpool."

Meanwhile, registered charity A Foundation is closing its Liverpool operation in Greenland Street.

A Foundation, which has a London operation, was established in 1998 with funding support from James Moores.

The organisation commissioned Union North to design gallery space and a new entrance at three former industrial buildings within the Baltic Triangle area of Liverpool city centre and launched in September 2006.

No one was available for comment from A Foundation when contacted by Place.

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This is a major blow for Liverpool and hope they will be able to stage an alternative event of some description.

By Alan

What a shame about A Foundation, it continually organised interesting exhibition and events. A dinner for "ladies of a certain age’ by Tatsumi Orimoto and the now legendary Cut Paper performance for the 2010 Biennial. A great loss for Liverpool.

By Anonymous