crowd of people in front of a stage

Eurovision: United by music

The University's unique and inclusive programme of Eurovision events ensured the communities of Liverpool and Ukraine were part of the celebration

After months of planning, in May this year, the city of Liverpool proudly hosted the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukraine. Alongside the huge range of events and cultural activities that took place across the city, the University delivered its own programme including the ‘United by Music’ festival, a week of student-led activity centred around Abercromby Square (pictured below), which was renamed ‘ABBAcromby Square’ in tribute to the 1974 Eurovision winners.

students sitting on large deckchair in park

A host of cultural, educational and academic activities took place on and off campus. Many of these recognised the University’s important connection with Sumy State University, Ukraine, with which it was twinned in 2022, following the full-scale invasion by Russia. Events included mihi Eurovision, an initiative led by the Languages department, which saw pupils from 16 of the region’s primary schools learning new languages through music, and culminated in an event at the Tung Auditorium. Meanwhile, the Liverpool University Music Society delivered a concert of classic Eurovision and Europop anthems from across the decades, and the Liverpool UNIty Choir performed in the Eurovision Village.

Cultural collaborations

University partner Tate Liverpool art gallery organised a ‘Late at Tate Liverpool’ featuring music and talks by University academics, and the University’s Heseltine Institute launched a series of Eurovision-related policy briefings.

man standing in front of a painting on a wall

Local street artist and alumnus Paul Curtis (pictured above) (BSc Hons Geology and Physical Geography 2000), who designed the cover of the 2021 edition of the Alumni magazine, created a bespoke art piece entitled Peace and Love at the Guild of Students. Dr Sam Murray (MA Popular Music Studies 2012) shared his thoughts and memories of Eurovision via a special Eurovision podcast, and alumni also contributed their Eurovision memories.

Celebrating our connections

In creating a programme for the University community and the people of Liverpool, the University’s commitment to its partnership with Sumy State University has been front and centre of its approach. Tim Seamans (BA Hons Politics 1998) is the Director of External Relations, and oversaw the delivery of the University’s programme. He explains: “Our involvement has contributed to Liverpool delivering a unique event – one that went far beyond the song contest itself to reach out to local people, visitors and the wider world in many different ways, including celebrating our connections to Ukraine.

“Our twinning arrangement with Sumy State University was an important inspiration for getting so involved, both through cultural activities on campus and through an academic programme that engaged the wider community,” he continues.

large group of school children on a stage

“Highlights of our programme included two performers from Sumy appearing in a concert at the Tung Auditorium, alongside three of the entrants to the main contest; and a video recorded by students at Sumy State University to teach local school children Ukrainian phrases as part of the mihi Eurovision project.” (pictured above)

A meaningful legacy

Tim goes on: “It’s now over one year since the twinning arrangement was established, and we’re reflecting on how it will continue to evolve in the future.”

In the short term, the partnership – which is one of a number between UK and Ukrainian universities – has provided vital support to enable students and researchers to continue their work. This includes welcoming more than 80 Ukrainian students to the University of Liverpool’s International Summer School, both on-campus and virtually; providing access to electronic library resources; supporting Sumy’s cloud-based IT needs; providing staff with access to development courses; and joint work on academic journals and conferences. In March of this year, the two universities also announced a new research collaboration on digital transformation, and many more initiatives are expected to follow.

As Tim says, “In the longer term, we hope that the collaboration will help Sumy State University to continue to play a valued part in their country’s future in more peaceful times ahead.” ●


Our involvement has contributed to Liverpool delivering a unique event – one that went far beyond the song contest itself to reach out to local people, visitors and the wider world, including many connections to Ukraine.

Tim Seamans, Director of External Relations

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