North West Businesses Award Lever Prize To Liverpool Biennial

By Richard Moss | 11 January 2006
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Shows a photograph of the waterfront in Liverpool. Across a small stretch of the River Mersey are the three graces, three imposing stone buildings.

Once one of the country's most important ports, Liverpool is building itself back up with culture and heritage at the forefront. Courtesy National Museums Liverpool.

Leading businesses in the North West of England have awarded the inaugural Lever Prize, an annual award for world-class arts organisations in the region, to Liverpool Biennial.

The North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT), comprising 27 of the region’s largest businesses in partnership with Culture Northwest, awarded the prize during a formal dinner at the Lady Lever Art Gallery on January 10 2006.

The £10,000 cash prize, which takes its name from the soap magnate William H Lever (later Lord Leverhulme) who was famed for his patronage of the arts, is designed to revive the philanthropic traditions practiced by successful industrialists of the past.

a photograph of four men in suits holding a sculptured prize

The award was announced at a ceremony at the Lady Lever Art Gallery.

(Above) l to r: Lewis Biggs, Chief Executive Liverpool Biennial, Colin Tweedy, Chief Exec Arts & Business, Loyd Grossman, Chair of Culture Northwest, John Roberts, Chief Exec United Utilities and Chair of North West Business Leadership Team.

Speaking at the dinner United Utilities Chief Executive and Chair of the NWBLT John Roberts said: “It is a fact that the great tradition of business philanthropy towards the arts has been sadly lacking in recent years and we wanted to award the Lever Prize to an arts organization of international or potentially international significance.”

Mr Roberts went on to explain how Liverpool Biennial had succeeded in fulfilling these criteria by demonstrating its “potential to become a world class player, while retaining its regional distinctiveness.”

Established in 1998, Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art has presented three successful festivals – in 1999, 2002 and 2004. The fourth Biennial festival opens on September 16 and runs until November 2006.

The judges, comprising NWBLT members and Libby Raper, Chief Executive of Culture Northwest, assessed the Biennial’s existing work as well as its ability to enhance programmes through engagement with business.

Shows a photograph of several brightly coloured Biennial leaflets.

The Biennial is supported by afoundation, Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council, the Northwest Regional Development Agency and the European Union through the Merseyside Objective One, European Regional Development Fund.

They were impressed by the Biennial’s track record of innovative business partnerships, overseas links and a learning and inclusion programme, which was promoted on the back of a touring exhibition of work.

“I am delighted that the award of the inaugural Lever prize will bring Liverpool Biennial and the most aspirational companies of the North West into closer and more creative conversation,” commented Lewis Biggs, Chief Executive of Liverpool Biennial, “and I look forward to a hugely exciting year”.

As well as the cash prize, Liverpool Biennial will be given the opportunity to develop links with commerce and work closely with the businesses in the NWBLT, re-engaging businesses and the arts in innovative ways.

For more information on Liverpool Biennial visit the website

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