Liverpool unveils details of 24 cultural commissions which will take over the city in the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest 2023.
Of the 24 brand-new commissions, 19 are collaborations between UK and Ukrainian artists
Highlights from the programme include: Soloveiko Songbirds, Protect The Beats, Jamala – QIRIM, Welcome to Eurotopia, Land & Sky, Home & Dreams and more
It’s the pre-party to end all pre-parties as details are unveiled of a unique, never-before-seen cultural festival which will take over Liverpool in May.
Taking place from 1-14 May, EuroFestival is a first for a Eurovision host city, as it presents 24 commissions – 19 of which are collaborative projects between UK and Ukrainian artists – to showcase the uniting power of music and art.
One of the most ambitious projects, Soloveiko Songbirds, will see 12, large scale, light-up nightingales located around the city. Each songbird will be designed with unique plumage and accompanied by bespoke audio soundscapes to represent different regions of Ukraine. When viewed collectively, the Songbirds will make up a beautiful trail which can be followed by the public over the two-week festival.
Surrounded by thousands of sandbags to replicate the way statues in Ukraine are being protected from bombardment, the Nelson Monument, located in Exchange Flags, will host Protect the Beats. Within the structure will be screens premiering a new short documentary which highlights how live music and performance continued throughout last year, showing in one piece the protection of both physical and musical culture.
Working with 450 children from Ukraine and 450 children from across Merseyside, Land & Sky, Home & Dreams, will connect both groups of children in a simultaneous mass participation event. The kites – which the children have designed and painted themselves – will be flown in New Brighton and in four locations across Ukraine.
Tapping into the Eurovision’s United by Music ethos will be Welcome to Eurotopia – a ‘Supergroup’ made up of Liverpool musicians collaborating with Ukrainian artists. The group will perform a mix of original and existing music, in off-the-charts Euro-typical costume and glamour. Highlights from the line-up include Natalie McCool, Stealing Sheep, She Drew The Gun’s Lou Roach and Ukrainian artists Krapka Koma, Iryna Muha and Helleroid among many more.
Ukrainian Eurovision Song Contest winner and singer songwriter Jamala will also premiere an extraordinary and poignant new album of music, based around Crimean Tatar folk songs and accompanied by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra as part of QIRIM on 11 May .
With Fire and Rage is an immersive audio experience (accessed via QR codes located around the city) following the stories of artists on the frontline in Ukraine. Combining testimony with video, visual art, poetry and music, this smartphone adventure explores the powerful role creativity plays in the face of invasion. The journey leads viewers from music concerts in metro stations during air raids, to smuggling artworks out of cities as rockets fall, to puppet shows live-streamed out of bomb shelters. Set against the backdrop of Liverpool, public locations will take on new meaning as audiences engage with acts of cultural resilience and the stories of the people behind them.
The Unity Theatre will also act as a hub for various theatre performances engaging Ukrainian artists across theatre pieces, poetry and food offerings. Some of the commissions within this strand of the festival programme will be performed at partner venues including the Invisible Wind Factory. At Unity, Ukrainian theatre director, writer and actor Yurii Radionov will present UKRLAND: Stories from Ukraine, and the world premiere of the newly commissioned Maria, featuring five refugee Ukrainian actors from across the UK. The Invisible Wind Factory will be the location for the critically acclaimed contemporary media-opera Chornobyldorf.
Elsewhere, fans will be able to experience EuroCamp presents…, an LGBTQI+ focussed three-day festival in Chavasse Park, Liverpool ONE, featuring drag, performance, choreography, vogue, music, carnival, circus and more. Xpressia Festival, an underground counterculture festival, will be brought to life in several locations across Liverpool. Storyville Live, will see the award-winning documentary series stage its first ever film festival at the Everyman Cinema, celebrating both Ukrainian and music documentaries, whilst HOME will showcase Ukrainian photographers examining the concept of ‘Home’ at the Open Eye Gallery, accompanied by a new collection of poetry from leading names. Over the course of the two week period there will also be Queerovision, an online commission showing digital video reportage of Liverpool’s Queer Fringe throughout the festival period, and The People’s Flag, a mass participation dance event. The Big Eurovision Read, is a national project with The Reading Agency choosing a shortlist of books inspired by the theme of ‘United by Music’.
In collaboration with Ukrainian curator Olena Kasperovych, the Dialogues project will be an evolving exhibition taking place at The Bluecoat. Ukrainian artist Alevtina Kakhidze will work alongside Liverpool-based artist Ellie Hoskins. Over the course of the Eurovision festival, prints and other artworks will gradually fill the galleries, charting the relationship between the collaborators. Sound of Freedom will also see large scale mural commissions from Ukrainian and UK artists placed around the city in high visibility spots. Late at Tate: The Spirit of Eurovision, National Museums Liverpool x Eurovision, and You’re a Vision! at the Everyman will also house activity across the two-week celebration.
The commissions announced today join a string of exciting projects already announced for EuroFestival including The Blue and Yellow Submarine Parade by The Kazimier, English National Opera does Eurovision, Izyum to Liverpool by Ukrainian artist Katya Buchatska and Rave UKraine.
EuroFestival has been made possible thanks to support from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, as well as The British Council, Spirit of 2012 and Arts Council England. The content partners are The Ukrainian Institute, the BBC, Liverpool ONE, The Liverpool BID and Royal Liverpool Albert Dock.
“EuroFestival is unique in every sense. No other Eurovision host city has ever curated a creative programme of such scale and scope, paying homage to the culture and heritage of both Liverpool and Ukraine in the most unforgettable way.
“Evocative, thought-provoking, joyous, celebratory, reflective, hopeful – these 24 commissions cover the whole gambit of emotions which will draw in the audience and make them really feel truly part of this Eurovision experience.
“It’s a programme of glorious brilliance, made by artists with open hearts and the will and commitment to present a show in less than five months, to reach across countries and genres and to produce this Scouse/Ukrainian mashup of brilliance.
“This is the spirit of Eurovision spilling onto our streets. Free for all. Accessible to all. Uniting us all”Clare McColgan CBE, Director Culture Liverpool
“EuroFestival will be a spectacular showcase of artistic and creative talent from the UK and Ukraine in a wonderful collaboration. From installations and performances to 900 kites flown by British and Ukrainian children, this two week cultural festival will bring people together and create long-lasting memories for visitors to Liverpool as they get involved in the Eurovision Song Contest.
“This programme has Ukraine at its heart. It shows we are not only united by music but we are united in our support for our friends in Ukraine.”Stuart Andrew, Eurovision Minister