Firestarters – Building Back Equal 2: Culture and Destination Tourism
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Firestarters – Building Back Equal 2: Culture and Destination Tourism

How can the Liverpool City Region’s culture and tourism sector come together to champion diversity and build back equal?

Building Back Equal…

Culture and Destination Tourism is the second in a four-part series of ‘Building Back Equal’ events focusing on bringing people together to take action, spark change and ensure a fair recovery from COVID 19. Insights from the first event in April 2020 have been used to identify priority sectors for underrepresented groups. Other sectors that the remaining events will focus on include ‘Health and Wellbeing’, and ‘Employment and Skills

A year in culture…

The cultural sector has always been recognised as being one of the more progressive and diverse; in the past 12 months, many of our cultural organisations have suffered from financial loss and had their futures cast into uncertainty due to covid regulations. This is another element of COVID-19 that has disproportionately affected marginalised groups. 

Building on our first Firestarters event

Our last event brought together a diverse range of cross-sector stakeholders to reflect on their experiences and to have input in what steps they felt needed to be taken for the region to build back equal. The discussion highlighted three barriers to building back equal: 

  • Networks – Diverse business owners aren’t locked into the networks they need to be for support and advice that will enable them to grow
  • Measurement and accountability – Change needs to be positive but also measurable
  • Diverse voices – More needs to be done to amplify diverse voices in the LCR

SMART Commitments 

Firestarters aims to be different. We started Firestarters because we wanted to establish a peer support network that was driven by action, insights and social change rather than sales and profit. From our first building back equal event that took place in April, measurability and accountability were highlighted as two of the barriers to creating real change. SMART Commitments are our way of addressing this challenge. We will set ourselves three SMART objectives from each event that will help us to manage our progress and our impact and will help us to keep ourselves accountable. The way we define our SMART Commitments are categorised in three ways:

As a business

What commitments can we, Matchstick Creative, make as a business? How can we change our processes? How can we introduce fairer ways of working? How can we improve the impact we have?

As a community

What commitments can we, Firestarters, make as a cross-sector community? What changes can we make? What should our priorities be? What should our agenda be?

As an activist

What commitments can we make as activists? What issues can we raise awareness of? What agenda can we get behind? How can we influence people with our actions? 

As a Business 

How do we inspire positivity and creativity in young people? How do we inspire them to go on and build on what’s happening now? 

Sarah Ogle, Marketing and Communications Director, Everyman Theatre and Playhouse

Problem: How do we inspire the next generation to build on the work that’s already been done? 

Response: Matchstick Creative is going to help inspire and support the next generation of young people by supporting the Culture Deck Music Project with a strategy workshop.

As a Community

How do we actually change, “nothing’s changed”? How do we stop having this continuous pattern? We are now on a loop. 

Andrew Ibi, Head of Fashion, LJMU

The main thing that struck me from our conversation is that there are plenty of examples of people who are making changes, but we’re not very good at sharing. We’re not good at optimising some of the resources that we have and the knowledge we have. 

Sarah Lovelle, Head of Culture, LCRCA

A few people in the group are like myself – they’ve been around for a while, and we’re conscious that we’ve seen initiatives, and statements and manifestos come and go and nothing much changes. 

Kevin McManus, Head of UNESCO City of Music

Problem: We seem to be stuck in a cycle. A lot of the conversations we’re having have already been had. There are some people doing great things, but we’re not very good at sharing it. How do we galvanise these groups into action and collaboration?

Response: We’re going to help improve knowledge sharing by creating a newsletter that sign-posts resources and shares news. 

As activists 

Problem: A lack of connection between different purpose-driven organisations leads to repeated efforts and repeated work

Response: Reach 1000 people with a feature campaign on 6 LCR activists, Raising awareness of what is already being done around the city regarding activism and social action.

What’s next?

What’s next for Firestarters and Building Back Equal? We’ll provide regular updates on our progress with our SMART Commitments via our social channels (Twitter and Instagram). We also have a further two Building Back Equal events around Health and Wellbeing, and Employment and Skills, the dates for which are still to be confirmed. If you would like to be notified when we have a date then get in touch via email: