There Will Be SOMETHING for EVERYONE When We Celebrate Our Culture Year; Pretentious or of the People? Joe Riley Gets the Latest Capital of Culture Lowdown from Elusive Artistic Director Robyn Archer

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Byline: Joe Riley

ROBYN Archer, charged with giving Liverpool its biggest ever party - "but not a hangover" - has finally shown her cultural colours.

The 2007/08 artistic director put an American techno-theatre company on stage at the Royal Court at the weekend in a show about big brother style surveillance.

And then she stood back to take the plaudits - and the flak.

Some said how wonderful and how new. Others how pretentious and arty-farty - an ironic judgement on a woman who has written a best-selling kids' novel about flatulence.

"The show was not high-flying nineteenth century opera. It used very plain tales of life today against the backdrop of technology," she insists.

But Australian-born Archer, off to Canada this week to talk to Quebec about its coincidental 400th anniversary in 2008, is used to being , in the firing line.

If you can catch her.

She dismisses the nonsense over the wait for her delayed visa. Yes, she has signed a full-time contract and she is here now and working full-time on the city's behalf.

All done and dusted. Although, she argues, in an internet and faxing world, she has been doing just that for more than a year: "Otherwise, what's already happening would not be happening," she says.

"I think it's difficult for some people to get the concept of the gipsy. I haven't lived anywhere, in fact, for 25 years. I am constantly on the hoof."

Another imminent trip is to Ljubljana in Slovenia which wants to be Capital of Culture in 2012: "So I'm going to tell them what it is like."

But should an artistic director be an ambassador, or purely on home ground strapped into the driving seat?

Robyn Archer replies by quoting results to date. Like the 30 Liverpool groups brought together and focussed by the presence of the New York based multi-media Builders' Association and their artistic director Marianne Weems. Thirty groups working in the same techno field, and previously unaware of each other.

"Here is a top-rung artist, just seconded to Disney, who has spent 10 days in Liverpool working on a one to one basis with local artists. Going the extra yard to train and share."

This is part of Archer's strategy in refusing a hit and run Capital of Culture of star names who grab big money one day and leave the next.

The same sustaining influence will occur, she says, when the Trisha Brown Dance Company flies in from the States next month.

"She is one of the legendary greats of American dance. If this were happening in London, the arts pages of the newspapers would be full of it.

"Likewise, I hope people will realise, reading the ECHO, that this is of great significance. …