Winning Eurovision was a “bittersweet moment” for Liverpool as the city vows to do its utmost to honour its Ukrainian sister city.Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Roy Gladden has written to the Mayor of Odesa after the city secured the right to host the European song contest last week. Liverpool beat competition from Glasgow last Friday to be named the stand-in UK host in place of Ukraine, owing to the ongoing Russian invasion.
In his letter to Gennadiy Trukhanov, Cllr Gladden said he was “proud” the city would host in Ukraine’s place. He said: “When it was announced that we were the winner, it was a bitter-sweet moment. We know this is your event – it should be you and your colleagues across your country working together on plans to host the competition in 2023 – but sadly that is not to be Ukraine is at the heart of our Eurovision plans – we will do our utmost to celebrate your culture, your people and your country – giving it a scouse twist which we’re sure you’ll approve of.”
During the bidding process, Odesa and Mayor Trukhanov gave their full backing to Liverpool, saying it “perfectly reflects the brightness of the event and demonstrates the true diversity within unity,” adding: “Let the songs of the entire Europe ring over the river Mersey.” Liverpool first struck up links with Odesa in 1957 when it was still part of the Soviet Union.
City officials maintained an active policy of twinning with other cities following the Second World War where links were forged with the Black Sea port. Cllr Gladden wrote how taking up the mantle on behalf of Ukraine was “an honour” for the city.
He said: “As our much-loved sister city, your support throughout the bidding process was invaluable. Your messages of encouragement touched us – and I’m not ashamed to say they made some of the bid team cry! Your communications resulted in us being all the more determined that we should have the honour of staging this event on your behalf.
“And it truly is an honour. I’m sure our team in Liverpool will continue to liaise with colleagues in Odesa as we head towards May and the incredible spectacle that will be Eurovision.”
The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 will take place on Saturday, May 13. Liverpool has already released some details of its planned cultural programme, which would begin months before the actual song contest next May.
At the core of this will be a major programme of artist exchange and co-production between Ukrainian and Liverpool-based artists.