I’ve spent 2 days on the Biennial training courses. One day in the Bluecoat receiving a general briefing from the curator and her team and today I have been on a walk-through of some the main art venues.
There was a lot to take in and I could see there will be a lot for the visitors to go to. We were informed that Liverpool’s Biennial attracts more visitors than any other Biennial in the world and is expected to make a £27 million economic impact on the region. There will be an estimated 27% of visitors coming from London and 9% from around the rest of the world.
A lot of effort was put in so we could make people feel welcome and we were taught how to recognise different visitor types. Most of the events are free with the occasional paid event. There is a wide range of events in public spaces, traditional galleries and newly opened-up spaces such as the Cunard Building and the abandoned Royal Mail sorting office on Copperas Hill.
The full programme can be seen here – http://liverpoolbiennial.co.uk/programmes/festivals/overview/4/2012/
Plus there is a wide range of fringe events that are supported by the Biennial and can be seen here – http://www.independentsbiennial.org/
This aspect of the Biennial interested me, as in a previous Art Feast post I described how I sowed seeds in the name of art with Rebecca Chesney in Everton Park. I was looking for her in the programme and was disappointed not to see her there. Rebecca in an e-mail explained that her project was not funded by the Biennial but by Landlife (a wild flower charity) and the Arts Council. However, the Biennial had supported her and helped recruit people like me via its Facebook page.
Volunteers are going to be a key part of the process. As part of today’s tour we saw the emergency shelters in Exchange Flags, behind the Town Hall, which are being installed by Hsieh Ying-Chun. These are being constructed with the help of local volunteers. In a disaster zone local people would also be recruited to erect them. I had a chat with one of the volunteers and she explained it was hard work and many muscles are still aching. There were a wide range of volunteers but the majority were young people looking for a career in the arts. I spoke to the Visitor Service Leader and she explained they were still looking for volunteers and I got the impression the resources they have been allocated to recruit have made it a struggle to attract sufficient numbers.
It was great going to the various locations. The 2 big spaces at the Cunard Building and Copperas Hill sorting office I had walked past all my life, but had never been in. The Cunard was amazing with its ornate departure lounges and the sorting office was amazing too with a lot of its paraphernalia from its previous life still lying around. Even without the art they were well worth visiting.
We were warmly welcomed where we went. My favourite place was 28-32 Wood St (the former Open Eye building) where the China Town exhibition installation was in progress. The artist Ming Wong was charming and was delighted to be in Liverpool with his screenings and artwork, illustrating the film clips. I’ll definitely be returning to this exhibition and encouraging visitors to go, especially as it is a bit off the beaten path.
I’m now looking forward to the next ten weeks of volunteering. At the weekend I’ll be in the Monro on Duke St and then on Tuesdays I’ll be in City States on Copperas Hill.
I’ll do further reports as the weeks progress.
The organisers are still looking for volunteers so if you fancy being involved in the world’s most visited Biennial have a look at this link – http://liverpoolbiennial.co.uk/about/opportunities/7/liverpool-biennial-2012-now-seeking-volunteers/