‘One thing that will persist is the desire for human experience’
Liam Kelly, founder & CEO of social enterprise Make Liverpool, Baltic Triangle CIC
Though voiced in the context of protecting creative spaces in the Baltic Triangle, the sentiment rings true of The World Transformed festival in general.
It is not lost on anyone that the TWT, conjoined with the Labour Party conference, was held in this area of Liverpool. It was held in this area of Liverpool, in full knowledge of its recent and specific history.
The Baltic Triangle, uniquely created by non-displacement gentrification, attracted some of the biggest pioneers of societal reform. This is a positive message.
When I attended the ‘Regenerating Regeneration’ talk on the Sunday morning of the TWT, I fully expected to walk away entirely disillusioned with the concept of gentrification. I anticipated a prevailing resentment at the seemingly relentless property development that threatens our creative spaces.
And yes, there was an ember of that. Yet I also felt assured. The Baltic Triangle was created without displacing any communities, and it can continue to thrive under that same model.
The money (and exposure) generated from this hugely successful festival will be pumped back into the area. It will seek to ensure that the ‘Baltic could offer space long-term to those in creative fields, rather than them just being a staging post in the property development cycle’ (Baltic Creative Managing Director Mark Lawler).
There is no desire for such a positive example of gentrification to be soured by needless regeneration. Yes, we all know about the closure of Constellations. It is a blow, but the emergence of the Hinterlands is a triumph. As it happens, both venues were central to the TWT festival.
The Hinterlands was the venue for a Monday talk which I attended, aptly titled ‘In and against the State’. John McDonnell MP spoke passionately about the origins of trade unions, the Labour Party and community activism.
He emphasised the need to both fight the state, and to recognise the extent of its power.
‘The power and influence of the central state has to be addressed. The development of socialism is brilliant, but has to be developed alongside the state’.
Although speaking on a national level, McDonnell’s rhetoric is one that can be applied to the preservation of the Baltic Triangle.
To protect the Baltic Triangle, we have to acknowledge the power of the central state (the Council in this case). We have to accept that although the area was created by non-displacement gentrification, attempts will be made to displace those who are there now.
Some of those attempts will succeed, but others won’t. We have to learn to work alongside those who are obtuse to deal with, and who are money driven.
And by ‘we’, I mean the socialist left.
To host TWT is one of the Baltic Triangle’s biggest victories. To welcome high profile figures such as McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, Owen Jones, Ed Miliband etc, is to give the Baltic Triangle its biggest possible endorsement.
In response to a question posed by Liam Kelly, Liverpool’s culture is not for sale. So long as the Baltic Triangle resists the majority of attempts to purge its creative core, it will remain a positive emblem within our city.