Phase One event in Liverpool finds the Capital of Culture undaunted by downturn fears

Construction’s new professionals think a recession is coming…. but they’re not that worried. That’s what more than 70 of them told us in Liverpool last night, as they assembled to network, make new friends and enjoy a drink at the latest of Building’s Phase One socials for newcomers across the industry.

We asked whether they thought Britain was heading for recession. Two-thirds said yes, but that the economy would pick up again quite quickly. A fifth were more pessimistic, expecting a severe recession, but just over 10% didn’t think there would be a recession at all.

Neither are they cutting back on their spending – two thirds said fears of recession had made no difference to them – and 70% aren’t worried about losing their jobs either. But they’re still quite attracted by the idea of going to work abroad – 36% are thinking about it, and one QS had already decided to move to Dubai.

Perhaps our Liverpool attendees are reflecting the general mood of ebullience in this year’s European Capital of Culture. The evening’s speaker was Claire McColgan, an executive producer for the Culture Company and curator of many of the year’s events. She outlined the trials and tribulations of winning the bid and developing the programme – not always with such rapturous support from the city’s residents.

The massive building programme in the centre of the city has been both a curse and a blessing for the Culture Company. “When people couldn’t get down The Strand for the last two years, or anywhere around the Albert Dock, it was the Capital of Culture’s fault. And we were like ‘separate the programme from regeneration, people don’t understand!’ But now what’s great is that people are crediting the Capital of Culture with the Liverpool One dev and with the arena. The whole of the legacy of Capital of Culture will be about the way the city’s changed, especially this year.”

McColgan remembered the last time she’d been to the Baby Blue bar, in the company of the judges of the 12 competing bids for Capital of Culture status. “We had all the leaders of the leaders of the city council, everyone was trailing around after the judges, it was a really big deal for Liverpool… and the comic was absolutely filthy. He was fantastic but he was filthy. And you’re just sitting there thinking ‘oh, my god, we’ve lost it, we’ve really lost it for the city’. The next day the chair of the judging panel got a note through his door saying ‘whoever took you to that comedy club should be shot’.”

Phase One continues later this year in Edinburgh on September 4, Bristol on October 9 and London for a special Christmas knees up on December 4. If you’d like to receive information on future events, or to put your name on the guestlist by going to the web link below.