This report contributes a significant addition to existing research. It deepens our understanding of the role of Eurovision and mega-events more broadly in international relations, peace, place, and too in 'soft power', and it explores the special moment of Liverpool and Ukraine collaborating to host Eurovision 2023.

In partnership with Liverpool City Council and the UK's Department for Culture, Media and Sport, we commissioned this research to respond to a series of questions:

  • The story of Eurovision 2023 and what was learnt from the UK hosting on behalf of Ukraine?
  • What is Eurovision’s role in developing and crystallising shared values?
  • What is the role of culture in conflict and does Eurovision play a contributing role?
  • Which brands (such as the BBC) are pivotal in adding credibility when we talk about values?
  • Does Eurovision create ‘soft power’ effects such as future visits, new business opportunities, and reputation uplifts?

The research project was led by the University of Hull in collaboration with consultants from the University of Brighton, the University of Glasgow, and Royal Holloway (University of London). 

Read the research reports

Read the full report

For a quick overview, read the executive summary.

Read the accompanying literature review

About the research

When commissioning this research, we knew there was more existing research on the soft power uses of sports events than the role of cultural events, or of their cultural relations potential. This is a rich research project contributing to the evidence in this area, responding to the broad questions listed above which take you from questions about the story of Liverpool hosting with Ukraine, to the role of Eurovision (and mega-events) during times of conflict.

The report focuses in on Eurovision 2023, and includes an analysis of stakeholder interviews, an international survey in five countries, and an overview of the literature review. The accompanying literature review is available as a separate document and is an excellent resource looking back through the history of the Eurovision Song Contest to explore themes of soft power, cultural relations, nation/city branding, international politics, art and peacebuilding, and the role of mega-events.

As conveyed in the title of the report 'culture, place and partnership' a key legacy of Eurovision 2023 is its place-based approach, commitment to community engagement and authentic UK/Ukraine co-creation in ways that signal a new way forward for the event. The report also celebrates EuroFestival — a two week cultural programme which engaged with local communities, and showcased UK/Ukrainian partnerships, facilitated by the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute as a legacy of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture. 

The report suggests recommendations for Liverpool and the culture sector, future Eurovision hosts, participating broadcasters and for future research. 

We hope you enjoy the research. We welcome any comments or feedback — share them with us by completing this online form

Loreen is announced the winner of Eurovision 2023 on stage with the Eurovision presenters, performers and Kalush Orchestra.
Eurovision Song Contest 2023 presenters and Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra congratulate the ESC 2023 winner Loreen  ©

BBC

In Partnership with DCMS and Liverpool City Council 

This research was funded by the British Council and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport who commissioned the research in partnership with Liverpool City Council. It forms part of a suite of evaluations commissioned by Liverpool City Council and its partners examining the economic, cultural, social and wellbeing impacts of Eurovision 2023.

Authors

Catherine Baker is Reader in 20th Century History at the University of Hull. She is an expert on the politics of popular culture, media and national identity in post-Cold War Europe, especially the post-Yugoslav space, and has researched the Eurovision Song Contest’s narratives of national, European and LGBTQ+ belonging alongside those of other mega-events for more than 15 years.

David Atkinson is a Professor of Cultural and Historical Geography at the University of Hull. He has longstanding interests in geographical imaginaries and representations and how these may be contested and renegotiated as they circle around Europe. More recent work addresses the politics, impacts and reception of cultural mega-events such as Cities of Culture.

Barbara Grabher works as a Lecturer in Event Studies at the University of Brighton. Her research is at the intersection of critical event, gender and environmental studies with a particular interest in UK City / European Capital of Culture event frameworks. She is the author of the monograph Doing Gender in Events: Feminist Perspectives in Critical Event Studies (Routledge, 2022) and co-editor of the forthcoming collection Events and Infrastructures: Critical Interrogations.

Michael Howcroft is a Research Associate in Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow and has held research posts and fellowships at the Universities of Southampton and Sheffield. His PhD explored the emotional politics of Brexit in Hull and the cultural politics of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture.

About the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture

A collaboration between The British Council and the Ukrainian Institute, the UK/Ukraine Season was presented in the UK, online and across some satellite locations in 2022–2023. The original concept was to celebrate 30 years of UK-Ukrainian diplomatic relations, building on the UK’s support for Ukraine’s cultural and creative sectors post-2014, and contributing to the people-to-people strand of the 2020 Strategic Partnership Agreement between the UK and Ukraine governments. With the ongoing war in Ukraine, the programme pivoted to focus on the changed needs and priorities of the Ukrainian sector and Ukrainian creatives, both in the UK and online. It featured a year-long programme of activity, and provided new opportunities for exchange including through residencies, talks, films and lectures.