Case Studies

COoL members deliver internationally renowned work which is noted for artistic quality and diversity. Several of our members deliver leading festivals.

Below are several case studies from individual COoL members detailing their key impacts and leading work across sectors, including: health and wellbeing, social justice, LGBT, mental health, engagement, higher education, schools and young people. Please see members individual websites for more information.

20 Stories High

20 Stories High make theatre with…
young people from excluded communities, emerging & world-class artists
to tell stories that are…

gritty, lyrical, melodic, rebellious,
contemporary, mashed-up, authentic, original,
visual, challenging, youthful, tender
anarchic, diverse, surprising, booming,
political, funny, collaborative and heart-felt.

We bring young people into theatre venues and go out into their communities.
We hail from Liverpool, but our reach is national
We believe everybody’s got a story to tell…and their own way of telling it…

Founded in 2006, 20 Stories High has established itself as one of the leading young people’s theatre companies nationally, and has won a series of prestigious awards and commissions. 20 Stories High tours to theatres, schools venues and community spaces and run a range of participatory projects.

Past Productions

In Spring 2013 we successfully toured the world premiere, Whole by Philip Osment, with excellent responses from national venues, audiences and participants. Whole won the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Young People’s Play Award 2013.

In Autumn 2013 Melody Loses Her Mojo – written and directed by Keith Saha – opened at the Liverpool Playhouse. This was a co-production with Liverpool Everyman Playhouse and Leicester Curve and toured to mid-scale national venues from September to November.

Tales from the MP3, a gritty, honest and transformative piece of verbatim theatre, was initially presented as our first ever Young Actors Company production in December, 2012 at the Bluecoat, Liverpool. We then took the production on national tour in 2014, including performances at the new Everyman theatre and a run at the Edinburgh festival.

Headz is a collection of contemporary urban monologues written by Keith Saha and originally performed by our Young Actors Company at the Playhouse Studio and Contact theatre in summer 2014. Headz will be toured for 3 years with our Young Actors Company from autumn 2016 and is designed to be a highly-portable collection of performances which can be remounted for festivals and events.

Black is a provocative and engaging new show written by Keith Saha which digs deep at the heart of racial tensions in the UK today. The production opened in Liverpool in January 2015 and went on a schools and national venues tour during February and March 2015.

In early 2016, we joined forces with Theatre-Rites to create a unique mash up of hip-hop, theatre and puppetry, The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective. The production was a raw, gritty, funny and moving gig that explored the hardships faced by young people in the UK today.

Awards and Nominations

In February 2016 we were awarded the Jenny Harris Award for work with Young People from the National Theatre Foundation. The award includes a grant which we will use to fund a new Young Writers Programme in Liverpool.


Through the tours of Whole, Melody Loses Her Mojo, Tales from the MP3, Black and The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective, we have significantly developed relationships with partner-theatres nationally. In particular we have been working with: Octagon Theatre, Bolton; Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse; Unity Theatre; Leicester Curve; Contact Theatre, Manchester; Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield; and mac Birmingham. Relationships have also deepened with: mac Belfast; the Albany, Deptford; and Battersea Arts Centre. We have also worked with a number of other venues including The Garage, Norwich, and CAST in Doncaster.

We continue to have strong relationships with our two major funders ACE and Liverpool City Council. 


Participation is at the heart of 20 Stories High. In Liverpool our Youth Theatre and Young Actors Company meet weekly at Bluecoat in Liverpool for skills workshops and the development of an annual show, while our Youth Advisory Group influences decision-making across the organisation. In September 2016 we will introduce a new Young Writers Programme in Liverpool. We are also engaging in a number of exciting collaborations locally and nationally, producing diverse participation activities in partnership with venues running alongside our tours.

Future Artistic and Participation Programme

Over the next two years, we will continue to tour professional work to theatre venues, schools and community settings, working with our local and national partners to develop audiences. The programme will comprise:

  • Headz: Following a successful Strategic Touring bid, 20 Stories High’s Young Actors will be touring each autumn from 2016-2018 with Headz, a collection of contemporary urban monologues, written by Keith Saha and directed by Keith Saha and Julia Samuels. As well as touring to community spaces, the monologues will be available for performance at festivals and events.
  • I told my Mum I was going on an R.E. trip…: A verbatim piece by Julia Samuels exploring pregnancy, parenthood and abortion, touring Spring 2017.
  • Spring 2018 – a re-tour of a previous production, possibly “I told my Mum I was going on an R.E. trip…” or a reworked version of The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective for venues and schools
  • The touring programme is created through research and development processes with artists and young people

Alongside – and intertwining with – the projects above, we run our Liverpool-based core programme of participation activity (in association with the Bluecoat), which includes:

  • Young Actors Company: for 17-25 year-olds, who create and perform one new show each year.
  • Youth Theatre: a weekly group for 13-21 year-olds, who create and perform one new show each year.
  • 2016 is 20 Stories High’s 10th anniversary year and to celebrate the Young Actors and Youth Theatre came together to create The Elasticated Sound-System a contemporary Musical Mash-Up where urgent political stories were re-mixed with personal heart rending tales. Written and directed by Julia Samuels and Keith Saha, the play was presented at the Liverpool Everyman in July 2016.
  • Funded by the Jenny Harris Award, we will be piloting a new Young Writers Programme from autumn 2016.
  • Open and Outreach Workshops: reaching new young people
  • Youth Advisory Group: young people informing decision-making within the company
  • Dinner and Debate, theatre trips, and other events

Working with our national theatre partners, we create bespoke participation projects and events, which interact with our touring work, and with our Liverpool-based youth projects.

Part of this will be a National Youth Exchange, delivered as part of our Strategic Touring funded work. 20 Stories High will bring together 4 national youth exchange partners in 2017 and 2018 to create pieces of work in response to our national tour.

Bluecoat Display Centre

Leading the way in contemporary craft

A registered charity based in Liverpool City Centre, Bluecoat Display Centre (BDC) runs a vibrant artistic and education programme within its gallery space as well as public events and outreach work. It provides over 60 local and 300 national and international craft makers and designers with a platform to display and sell their work.

BDC engages with over 30,000 members of the public who attend exhibitions each year, and nearly 40,000 who engage online with our interactive website. The only Liverpool-based contemporary craft gallery recognised by the Arts Council, BDC originated as one of this country’s earliest craft and design galleries in 1959.

The founder of BDC, Robert Gardner-Medwin, Professor of Architecture at Liverpool University, aimed to promote and display the work of leading designers of the time to enhance good architecture and interior design. His ethos continues today.

We are a charitable organisation promoting the finest contemporary craftwork by leading designer/makers, and this heritage is overseen by the work of BDC’s team and board of directors. BDC continues to grow, and develop into a strong and dynamic organisation with an international reputation for craft and design, the only one of its kind within Merseyside.



  • BDC sells work by leading craft makers while also promoting new and challenging work through six annual exhibitions. This introduces the public to the country’s leading artists. 
  • BDC also hosts 12 monthly displays by individual artists in our shop window. This enhances the Liverpool ONE environment with their average weekly footfall is about 50,000 and attracts new people into the gallery.


  • We run a programme which complements our exhibitions.
  • Various workshops throughout the year provide opportunities for participants to come and learn, experiment, develop, share and create in a supportive environment.
  • The public are able to meet local artists and designers as well as artists of international renown through ‘meet the artists’ events and talks. These happen in our gallery space as well as venues where relationships can be built between artists and audiences in a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Visits to art and craft venues with accompanying talks both locally and regionally are organised four times a year. In 2015 these included a visit to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester and Sheffield Assay Office.


Education is core to our values. We have strong associations with local universities, particularly with Liverpool Hope University’s Department of Fine and Applied Arts.

  • BDC aims to support students leaving University, keeping them in the city by offering support, advice, mentoring and training in their creative practice and a retail outlet for their work.
  • Each year graduates are given a solo exhibition in BDC, which provides them with the financial support and confidence to launch their career.
  • BDC offers a resource to local and international students and teachers through its permanent display collection. This contact with handmade objects is particularly important at a time of increasing screen-based activity amongst the young and throughout society.


The outreach programme has been designed to enable the local community to access the best of applied art and be inspired and challenged by the artists. We aim to reach as wide a range of people as possible.

  • Partnerships help us to reach new audiences in contemporary craft and have demonstrated our belief that craft can positively benefit a person’s overall health and wellbeing.
  • BDC currently run a series of artist residencies (for 3 North West based craft artists) at the Royal Liverpool University & Broadgreen hospitals (RLH) and The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust (TWC)
  • Over the past 3 years the Bluecoat Display Centre (BDC) have been successfully working with health and social care partners, including Person Shaped Support (PSS) on an outreach programme of artist–led workshops and residencies to demonstrate the benefits that craft can have on a person’s overall health and wellbeing.


  • Providing a platform for artists to display and sell their works, thereby adding to the strength of the craft sector as a whole.
  • Registered charity.
  • Long Established.
  • Diverse programme of exhibitions, talks, workshops, trips and outreach / community work. (This allows us to extend our reach a variety of audiences and under represented community groups.)
  • Unique tourist attraction.
  • Career development/mentoring and advice for makers.

Unique selling points:

  • We display and sell a work in range of media including jewellery, metalwork, glass, ceramics, wood, textiles and mixed media.
  • The high level of quality of works displayed in the gallery.
  • Each piece on display is unique / handmade & one-off. Ideal for people looking for something special, tourists & visitors to the city and also collectors looking for very specific works by certain artists.

We are most proud of:

  • Our positive and longstanding contribution to the arts sector in Liverpool
  • Supporting artists at various career stages.
  • The geographical scope of makers we exhibit eg local, national & international.


  • We are pleased to announce that we are now part of the Culture Liverpool Investment Programme.

Collective Encounters

Collective Encounters is a professional arts organisation specialising in theatre for social change through collaborative practice.

We use theatre to engage those on the margins of society, telling untold stories and tackling the local, national and international concerns of our time.

There are three main areas to our work:

  1. Participatory workshops: we work with young people, homeless people and older people locally using theatre to build confidence, develop skills and explore the issues and ideas which matter to them.
  2. Productions: we mount exciting productions that explore pressing social and political concerns, often transforming non-theatre spaces into magical performance places
  3. Research:  through academic and practical research we contribute to the wider national and international field of theatre for social change and spearhead best practice in the UK

For more information about our work please visit

Participatory Case Study

In the Participatory Programme we offer free weekly workshops to Young People, Older People and Adults with complex needs. We also run a number of outreach projects which we deliver in partnership with key organisations such as Liverpool Childrens Services, Local Solutions, PSS, Age Concern, the Whitechapel Centre and The Spider Project. We’ve put a Case Study together, so you can see how a specific project works in detail.

Transitions project

Transitions is a three year project that offers people with experience of addiction, homelessness and/or mental health issues the chance to take part in high-quality participatory arts activities. We’ve just finished the 1st year of the project and would like to share with you some of its successes. Over the last year we have

  • Delivered 93 workshops in homeless settings
  • Supported 53 people achieve a nationally recognised qualification
  • Facilitated 180 work placements hours in arts & cultural organisations on Merseyside
  • Worked with over 127 participants
  • Produced a new show, Farewell Welfare and toured it to 5 different venues in December 2015

We are delighted with the progress of Transitions and would to extend our thanks to the participants, artists, audience, partners and the Big Lottery Reaching Communities Fund for making Transitions what it is.

If you have experience of any of the issues outlined above, or work with an organisation that supports adults and would like to know more about how to access Transitions then get in touch.


dot-art supports visual artists and champions art as an integral part of everyday life.

We do this by selling locally sourced, affordable art, working with businesses to put art in the workplace and public realm, running art classes and working with schools and community groups.

All this is underpinned by our unique membership scheme for artists in the North West which gives access to all the activities above and a package of support and advice, creating and developing artists’ careers.

What we do

dot-art was founded in Liverpool in 2006 and specialises in affordable, high quality, locally sourced art. We work with over 100 artists to provide an unrivalled choice of original art and limited edition prints for home or business, as well as offering a range of complementary services including; commissions, art rental, art consultancy, exhibition planning and implementation, bespoke framing, art valuation and restoration and artist sourcing.

All our work supports our not-for profit arm, dot-art Services CIC, which exists to support North-West based visual artists, both emerging and established, through a range of services and opportunities designed to help them develop their careers and gain exposure and promotion for their work, as well as delivering a programme of art classes across Liverpool; and dot-art Schools, our innovative inter school art competition, launched in 2012.

Queen Avenue

In 2016, dot-art opened a new gallery in Queen Avenue, in the heart of Liverpool’s commercial district, from where we sell the work of our member artists, offer commercial services to business and individual customers and provide a range of support and engagement activities.

We operate affordable, flexible studio spaces for artists and creatives in Crosby, just north of Liverpool city centre. We work in partnership with the many of major cultural and tourism organisations across the Liverpool city region to deliver our work with schools and the public, including: St Georges Hall, Bluecoat, Hope Street Ltd, Sefton Park Palm House and Ness Gardens.

Major Project Impact:

Artist Support

  • Since 2006 we have supported and worked with over 500 visual artists and helped them to build or develop their careers; some of whom are still members today.

dot-art Schools

  • Since its launch in 2012, this programme has engaged almost 7000 children and young people, from over 400 schools, reaching a physical audience of over 50,000, combined with a vast online reach.

Art Classes for the Public

  • Since 2011 our courses have provided regular paid work for 25 artist tutors (some on a continual basis) and deliver 5000 teaching hours annually.

Liverpool Art Fair

We launched Liverpool Art Fair in 2012 with the aim of connecting local artists with new art buyers on a large scale, breaking down barriers, and making affordable art accessible to all.

After extending from a 4 day event to run across the whole summer in 2017, we have now welcomed almost 50000 art lovers, showcased work by over 1500 artists and sold around £60000 worth of art (mostly ranging from £20 – £100).

We are a unique and multifaceted organisation which occupies a vital position in the Liverpool City Region’s cultural infrastructure, offering services to artists that cannot be accessed elsewhere and encouraging everyone, from schoolchildren to business people to the general public, to value, engage with and participate in visual art.

First Take

First Take, established in 1986, is an award winning filmmaking and digital arts organisation. We use film and digital technology to engage, reduce isolation, enable voices to be heard, and to create social change. We specialise in working in diverse communities.

First Take works with other artists to create innovative, ground breaking pieces such as ‘Women Framed In Time’, a multi-media exhibition that was presented at the Museum of Motherhood in May 2016. We have partnered many arts organisations throughout Liverpool and the North West. With MDI we created two pieces of work documenting and exploring dance and dementia. The short film ‘Echoes’ was used at the National Memories Conference. 

Our work in the recovery community is ongoing but started in 2014 with a grant from Awards for All, where we trained 34 people, screenwriting and filmmaking and created 6 films: a poem, a rap, a documentary and two short dramas. The feedback was outstanding; here are just some of the comments:

“First Take has been one of the most enjoyable and significant parts of my recovery. I cannot have been treated better. Thank you.” – Martin West

“I have been able to overcome many personal obstacles including a lack of confidence generally and social anxiety in particular. Under their tutelage and encouragement I feel I can make a positive contribution to society now and I hope to continue further in filmmaking.”  – Michelle Johnson

One film ‘Christmas Carol’ was selected for ‘Reel Recovery International Film Festival’ and played in New York and Los Angeles, an amazing achievement for all involved.

Another major project was in partnership with Pagoda Chinese Youth Orchestra where we created ‘Augmented Orchestra’, which was an augmented reality trail of images throughout Liverpool’s Chinatown, each image triggered a film of a young person from the Chinese Youth Orchestra introducing and playing the instrument they play in the orchestra.

We partnered Wicked Fish on the ‘People Like Us’ project to deliver a large-scale innovative heritage project working in conjunction with National Museums Liverpool. We produced an accessible, mobile responsive website that was designed with and aimed at People with Learning Difficulties, a series of films, story-box visual oral histories, and an interactive museum kiosk as part of the exhibition. The exhibition was the first of its kind with People with Learning Difficulties learning about and sharing their history and plight. Looking at their family, social and cultural history.

Our Nationally Touring show ‘Café Missing’ was working with Fittings Multimedia. We developed the show by running a series of in-depth workshops with young people from across the country to feed into the final show that was created. We partnered organisations in Nottingham, Knaresborough, Newcastle, Liverpool, Wolverhampton and Leicester in order to reach the young people and form focus groups to work on the project.

Working with the First Take filmmaker each group created their own film. We created a website and each group had their own page with the film and the content they created. After the workshops had finished a sharing/ambassadors day brought together two young people from each group who then decided on the ideas for the final show. As well as ideas generated on the ambassador day, content created in the workshops was directly incorporated into the show. Many of the young people had access needs and the project set out to be as accessible in as creative and inclusive way as possible at all times and this was reflected in the final show.

We regularly work for local councils and national charities. Here are a couple of clients we have worked with:

“A massive thank you to you for the films – they played wonderfully today- totally lifted the event, brought the message home and left memorable impressions with everyone. I have had great feedback on them and also on how great you were to work with and turn it into reality in a very sympathetic way.  For me it has been a total pleasure to work with you on this, you flew with the brief and you made it seem so simple. I had total confidence in what you would do right from the word go and you definitely delivered.” – Sarah Dewer, Liverpool CCG

“First Take completely understood the brief presented to them. They dealt sensitively with carers’ experiences whilst ensuring the production of a quality resource for workforce development.  The result is an extremely powerful DVD that everyone involved feels proud of.” – Jane Weller, Senior Improvement Officer (Carers), Liverpool City Council

First Take was responsible for ‘High Hopes’, an 8 part documentary series that was broadcast throughout Europe, working with Sydvest Films, Norway and Prix Italia award-winning Exec Producer, Bob Long.

Our work with ‘Cities on the Edge’ featured on BBC’s Culture Show and work with the Zebu on ‘The One Show’. Our projects with Tameside Volunteers, DaDa and Barnardo’s Action with Young Carers all won Best Practice Awards.

Short films include ‘Enough Rope’, a true story about a direct action with BAFTA award-winning Vicky McClure playing the lead, which received official selection at several international film festivals, including in Hamburg and Los Angeles.   Another short we produced working with Tmesis Theatre, was selected for international film festivals in Helsinki, Sao Paulo and London. Our short ‘Lillie’ was nominated for ‘Femme Fantastique’ at the London International Short Films Festival, ‘Friendly Fire’ won BBC Best of the North West at the Manchester International Short Film Festival’ and ‘Morgan’s Organs’ was broadcast through Canal+ France and Canal+ Africa.

First Take’s feature length films include the highly acclaimed feature documentary ‘Pink: Past and Present’, which involved working with Liverpool’s LGBT community and being screened as part of the Homotopia festival

“It is not only a moving and inspirational film but it is also a fantastic insight into Liverpool’s LGBT’s heritage.” – Councillor Wendy Simon, Cabinet Member for Culture and Tourism Liverpool City Council

Our feature film ‘Big Society The Musical’ involved working within deprived wards of Liverpool with over 350 people. The project was supported by 27 local businesses, Mersey Fire and Rescue, Merseyside Police and Liverpool Film Office and was funded by Liverpool City Council, UNISON, Unite, The Co-operative Community Fund and SHAP. It is a personal drama set in Liverpool in 2011 against the backdrop of the cuts. It was chosen to open the London Labour Film Festival in 2014 and was premiered in the city as part of Liverpool’s International Music Festival later the same year. 


Established in 1993, MDI is the North West’s leading development agency for dance. We work collaboratively with local, national and international artists / partners to advance the production and presentation of dance that has artistic integrity, is transformational in its impacts, diverse in its audiences, and engages people creatively.

A big part of MDI’s work is to nurture, support and develop dance artists and the art form itself through working with artists, venues and audiences locally, nationally and internationally.  

Raising the profile of the role of artists in our society is at the heart of the work that MDI will support over the next three years 2015-2018 as artists are involved in every aspect of art form development here in Liverpool and the Liverpool City region as:

  • Choreographers, creating new work
  • Dancers, performing in a variety of context
  • Producers, developing new projects and events independently and collaboratively
  • Community dance artists and freelance practitioners, delivering and teaching studio and outreach work
  • Teachers, training and developing  experiences for student and professional dancers with masterclasses, residencies and projects.


Movema believe in the power of world dance for positive change. We are passionate about dance as a tool for self-expression and celebrating cultural differences.

Using these tools to connect and enrich people and communities to improve their sense of wellbeing.

Movema is an award winning, dynamic company specialising in promoting world dance within the community. Established in 2009 by 4 females from diverse artistic backgrounds, Movema shares and celebrates the UK’s diverse culture through an artistically driven world dance provision.
 Movema’s expert team delivers workshops, events, projects and professional performances by using world dance to engage, educate and entertain.

Key achievements

World Dance Education programme

A programme of workshops & masterclasses (including our innovative teacher resource “World in a Box”). Award winning Youth project “Unlock the Box” reaching out to 200 excluded young people each year.

“We have been delighted with the World in a Box resource. It has lined really well into our Project Based Leading approach…The resource provides clear support and guidance to teachers and is easy to use in the classroom” – Head Teacher, LIPA Primary School.

“…invaluable input to the young people within our community and schools. Providing our young people with a first class cultural experience and insight into the world around them. A superb asset, not only within our educational establishments but also by offering a healthy, fun way for people of all ages, bringing people together, regardless of our backgrounds and cultural diversity.”  – Curriculum & Pastoral Support Officer, EMTAS

“Excellent knowledge and content of session. Fulfilled the brief of what I requested. Prices are fair, comparable with other companies offering the same services. Would be interested in more workshops in the future and would recommend. Good session enjoyed by all!” – Bellerive FCJ Catholic College

“Young people had access to quality dance sessions that otherwise they would not have experienced….invaluable in the childrens opportunities and experiences” – Youth worker.

Health and wellbeing through world dance
 Teaching World dance and yoga classes in Merseyside and Bristol, Movema have a regular base of 100 participants attending weekly classes. ‘Moving Minds’ is a dance and mental health programme in which specialist practitioners run weekly movement workshops in clinical units across the region.

Staff comment (Psychiatrist):

The dance and movement sessions have made a positive difference to individuals as well as contributing to an increase of social interaction and physical activity across the whole ward. These sessions enable us to assess patients where traditional methods fail.”

Service User comments:

I feel so much better. Much calmer[…] It really helped me when you said not to think about past or future and if your mind starts to wander bring it back to yourself in the present, focusing on breath and things. It’s like when you go on holiday and spend all your time taking photos but not enjoying the experience as much. We do that a lot in life and we should enjoy the here and now more.”

Festivals, Cultural Celebrations, outdoor events

Providing experiences of authentic world dance techniques, as well as using modern styles developed from these practices, Movema regularly perform at regional and national festivals including African Oye, Light Night, Carnival and Chinese New Year.

Performances, Choreography and Entertainment
 Professional and community dancers regularly perform, presenting world dance in new, exciting ways. Movema has a repertoire of professional choreographed shows, including parades/outdoor demos at festivals, club nights and entertainments for corporate events.

Employment, Training and Up-skilling 
Providing work and training opportunities for a pool of professional and emerging freelance artists and volunteers from the region

Dedicated venue for World dance

  • Providing weekly world dance classes
  • Rehearsal space
  • Home for World dance training and development in Liverpool

Key Partners:

  • Merseycare
  • LIPA
  • Africa Oye
  • One Dance UK
  • The Black-e
  • Bay TV
  • MDI
  • Liverpool City Council
  • Liverpool Irish Festival
  • Brouhaha International
  • Open Culture
  • Katumba
  • RISE Youth Dance
  • The Island
  • SGS college
  • Chango Music
  • University of Bristol

Who do we work with:

  • Children and young people
  • Adults with Mental health illnesses
  • BAME communitiies
  • Disdvantaged communities
  • Schools: pupils and teachers
  • Universities
  • Health sector: Merseycare NHS and CCG
  • Festivals: UK wide
  • Artists

Open Eye Gallery

Photography is for everyone. It meaningfully informs our present, and can inspire positive futures. Today, with 2 billion photographs shared daily, photography is:

  • the primary visual medium by which people share their lives and curate their experience of the world
  • the most accessible visual creative medium
  • as important to the telling and making of history as the written word
  • a powerful tool for learning across, and beyond, the curriculum

Open Eye Gallery works with people to explore photography’s unique ability to:

  • celebrate diversity and creativity
  • connect
  • tell stories
  • inquire
  • reflect on humanity’s past and present

Founded in 1977 Open Eye Gallery is a leading UK photography space in Liverpool and a charity supported by public funding.

We exhibit photographers of international and national standing, as well as emerging practitioners. We offer practical, critical and professional development opportunities for photography practitioners, and offer learning, training and development opportunities to people in our local communities.

Open Eye Gallery’s Archive contains over 1,600 photographs prints by more than 100 photographers from the 1930s to the present day – and is available for loan. Its holdings are diverse, ranging from works by lesser known photographers to those by leading international artists. The archive is particularly strong on work made in and around Liverpool, including portraits, urban landscapes and social documentary.

This year 60,000 people will visit our exhibitions and 4,000 will engage in our activities and events. Increasing the depth of engagement is a key element of our Museum 3.0 model and going forward we aim to develop more programmes with and by the communities we serve.

Open Eye Gallery: 1977-2017

In 2017, Open Eye Gallery will turn 40 years old! To celebrate (and to say thank you for the continued support) we will be working with a broad range of photographers and partners to celebrate Liverpool, its communities and its place in the world.

(Winter 2017) North: Identity, Photography and Fashion – How does the idea of the North play out through photography and fashion? A collaboration with Lou Stoppard (editor at fashion photographer Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio) and Adam Murray (photographer and lecturer in Fashion Communication at Liverpool John Moores University), we present a survey of the influences of ‘northern identity’ photography in fashion and it’s impact nationally and internationally. Sponsored by Adidas.

(Spring 2017) Culture Shifts Global – Two Chinese photographers explore the urban experience – one, UK based looking at a city in China, the other China-based looking at both Liverpool and their home city. Working with curator Ying Kwok – who will simultaneously be curating Venice Biennial Hong Kong Pavilion – this exhibition explores city living through the lens of international photographers. This programme is part of LOOK’17 International Photography Festival which explores a new model exchanging ideas on photography and urbanism with one country internationally (China).

(Summer 2017) Open 3: Radical?  Contributing to a programme across Liverpool, Open Eye Gallery will be asking emerging and early career photographers to explore what ‘radical’ means now, half a century on from 1967’s Summer of Love in which images of Liverpool’s cultural avant-garde launched with real gusto onto the international stage.

Culture Shifts Local – As we move towards closer ties across Liverpool City Region, this programme asks how we utilise photography to reflect our identity. Over 2016 and early 2017, 7 photographers in-residence will be collaborating with communities across the city region to co-author photo stories that will be exhibited during 2017 in The Atkinson Museum, Kirkby Gallery, The Brindley, The Williamson Art Gallery & Museum and The World of Glass, with a culminating exhibition at Open Eye Gallery in Autumn 2017.

The term ‘community’ suggests shared experience, and Culture Shifts Local will explore photo stories from different perspectives, involving people living with dementia, young people, women, people living in Gramby, people living in Northwood, people reflecting on shared working histories in industry. Key partners include Sefton, Wirral, Knowsley and Halton borough councils, Gramby 4 Street CLT and St Helens Creative People and Places, with many delivery partners including clinical commissioning groups, youth agencies and NHS Merseycare.

Photostories – In 2017 we will launch a new online platform, Photostories. Primarily, the platform is about sharing meaningful photo stories, initially featuring work made through the Culture Shifts Local programme, the public launch invites a broader public to get creative with their camera, upload and share their photo stories.

Talent Development Programme includes:

Writer-in-Residence – Liverpool based poet Pauline Rowe will be leading a programme of creative writing interventions and workshops, inviting writers to respond to our programme, develop new writing and explore opportunities to work with photographers. The workshops will encourage interdisciplinary working and experimentation in an informal environment. Developed in collaboration with the University of Liverpool’s Centre for New and International Writing.

Work with Schools – Following the success of our first programme for schools in 2015/16, we are working with specialist Anne Spears to build upon the our model – which included a professional exhibition by and with young people in our gallery space, which then toured to Japan.

Hugh Baird Photography B.A. Partnership – Last year we piloted a programme whereby our Director, Curator and an exhibiting photographer worked with the FdA / BA (Hons) Digital Imaging and Photography Courses at the Hugh Baird University Centre, resulting in new photo books, an exhibition in Bootle and an exhibition at Open Eye Gallery. This academic year we aim to embed this partnership further connecting our programme to course modules.

New Photographers Forum – Is an opportunity for emerging practitioners to meet regularly to discuss their work in a supportive environment, with Open Eye Gallery staff and guest specialists contributing to individual sessions. The forum is hosted by Phoebe Kiely, a recent photography graduate from Manchester School of Art who exhibited at Open Eye Gallery as part of our ‘Open 2: Pieces of You’ exhibition. Open Eye Staff and guest specialists contribute to sessions.

Field Editions – This new organisation, Field Editions, takes limited edition photographic prints gifted by photographers, to art fairs to raise money for northern photography. Initiated by Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool; Redeye, The Photography Network, Manchester and Impressions Gallery, Bradford, Field Editions presents its inaugural portfolio of 20 exceptional – yet affordable – limited edition prints by both established and emerging contemporary photographers, such as Rut Blees Luxemburg, John Stezaker, Eva Stenram, Murray Ballard and Martin Parr. Works are available to view and buy online and at art fairs. All sales proceeds go towards supporting our work in the North, including the next generation of photography talent.

Events Programme – keep an eye on our website for an on-going programme of events, workshops and talks in the gallery and beyond.

Tmesis Theatre

Tmesis Theatre creates, develops and shares world-class physical theatre through performance, participation and an international festival.


Based in Liverpool the company has created and developed high quality, evocative and accessible physical theatre since 2003. Tmesis has earned a reputation nationally and internationally, touring to over ten countries, receiving critical acclaim for the unique style of movement-based theatre.

Winner of Best Choreography – United Solo Theatre Festival – New York 2016

Tmesis the only company in the northwest working in this unique highly physicalised style of theatre, that tour nationally and internationally. They have produced seven full length productions, which have performed at:

  • Over 75 venues
  • In ten countries
  • 21 international performances
  • 21 festivals worldwide

Recent Press:

 ‘Witty and wily…an enjoyably intriguing journey into the afterlife and beyond’ ★★★★The Stage (Beyond Belief 2018)

‘They always stand out. With their latest production, they are simply out-standing. ‘Powerful, punchy and poignant’ Wirral Globe ★★★★★ (Beyond Belief 2018)

 ‘A tremendously effective piece of theatre… an innovative and frightening look into where our media based lives could be heading’ Northwestend ★★★★ (Beyond Belief 2018)

Tmesis Training Company Company/workshops/residencies

As well as this the company provide unique training opportunities for young people, graduates and young artists who are interested in physical theatre that wouldn’t otherwise exist, inspiring hundreds of young people every year in the city through workshops, residencies, outreach projects and their annual training programme; Tmesis Taining Company.

Female focused work

In 2019 the female led company made a change in direction, focusing their projects on women and female work. They started the Liverpool hub of Mothers who Make, an all female Training Company and offered bursary’s for women creating new work through Physical Fest.

Physical Fest

Physical Fest is Tmesis’ international physical theatre festival. A 6-day festival presenting performance, workshops, a conference, family friendly day and bursaries for the creation of new work. A celebration of the rich variety of local, national and international contemporary physical work, the only festival of it’s kind in the UK.

To come to or be part of Physical Fest is a unique experience with a warm and creative atmosphere which transforms the cities venues and spaces during festival time, supporting local artists to create new work and attracting hight profile international artists who have never performed in Liverpool before.

Our ethos is to bring work that would not otherwise be seen in Liverpool, in 2017 we presented 7 international/national companies who had not previously performed in the North, supported 4 artists from the north to create new work, worked with 350 participants, 80 artists, and reached 6500 audience members.

The festival provides a valuable opportunity to see the latest developments across the world, in 2016 it was awarded European Festival’s Association label of quality.

The Windows Project

Established in 1976, The Windows Project promotes creativity through writing in a wide range of community and educational venues, including playschemes, youth centres, day centres and schools.  

With a strong commitment to supporting new writing, they provide advice and support to emerging authors through the Writing Advice Desk and mentoring through the Writers Attachment Scheme.