Liverpool Biennial Independents Under Threat!

IndependentsColour-200.jpgI now think there is a real danger that there may be ZERO funding for the Biennial Independents in 2008.

With the local elections on May 3rd now is the time to lobby councillors, MPs, the Arts Council and anyone else who may be interested. (More details below)

The Independents have never received funding from Liverpool Council and they already have a £20+million shortfall in the budget for next year. Now the Arts Council NW who entirely funded the 2006 Independents may be getting cold feet about resourcing any more as Grants for the Arts has been reduced by 35% as Lottery money gets rerouted to the London Olympics.

The Story So Far (briefly) Quoted from the CFO’s document..
Several different management models have been used to facilitate the Independents. In 2004 the Afoundation employed an Independents Creative Facilitator (CFO), provided office services, a website and funds for the CFO to disburse to artists. ACE funds were also open to application from artists irrespective of their receipt of Afoundation monies. Although LIB’s curatorial policy excludes Liverpool artists from its International programme, as in previous Biennials they included Independents’ listings and events within their own promotional and marketing initiatives.
In 2005/06 the Independents lost its infrastructure. the Afoundation made a free unserviced office available to the Independents for nine months. All other resources were re-directed to the foundation’s project at Greenland Street.
In the same period LIB determined not to include the Independents in its promotional programmes as previous inclusion had attracted public criticism
of LIB for inaccurate information supplied to it by the Independents.
Mid-2006 ACE made £52.5K available to a new CFO to promote and support the 2006 programme and explore options for the Independents future infrastructure. As previously, ACE funds remained open to application from individual artists and artist-groups. Liverpool City has never financially resourced the Independents.

Grants For The Arts Cut – Quoting Peter Hewitt, Chief Exec of Arts Council England…
“Grants for the Arts budget will reduce to £54m in 2007/8 from £83m in 2006/7, a reduction of 35%. The Grants for the Arts budget in fact fluctuates every year and was, for example, £57m in 2003/4. Nevertheless the reduction between 2006/7 and 2007/8 is a material one.

We have thought very carefully about how best to manage this smaller budget and, having taken into account a number of views internally and externally, have now decided to do the following:

* Enforce more rigorously our current guidance which puts a ceiling of £200,000 on national activities (touring etc) grants
* Enforce more rigorously our current guidance which puts a ceiling of £100,000 on grants to organisations
(Leeway may be allowed on both the above – but only in a very small number of truly exceptional cases)
* Monitor carefully the proportion of the Grants for the Arts budget that is awarded to Regularly Funded Organisations. ”

What to do?
Naturally the Independents Board will be doing all they can to secure funding. I’m sure it will help if everyone who is at all interested in seeing the Independents continue sends emails and letters to the authorities.
The email addresses of all local councillors are available on the website and MP’s addresses are there too.

Please send emails and letters to your Liverpool Councillor as soon as possible and send copies to Warren Bradley (Council Leader) of course. Also to Mike Storey, Laurence Sidorczuk (Chair culture and observer on FACT’s board) and Beatrice Fraenkel (Biennial and Bluecoat boards). Also lobby the Culture Company people from Jason Harborow down, especially the Artistic team.

Also get onto the Arts Council NW. The 2008 Independents should be the biggest and best ever, that appeared to be the Arts Council intention when they funded the last one but at the moment its looking like that really may have been the last one


  1. The quandary about the Independents is that it needs funding to enable an effective infrastructure. All which have been fully researched, discussed and proposed in previous meetings and forums (including here on Art in Liverpool). To be honest, no one is going to take anything serious, as the Independents and third party interests from artists and art groups need to demonstrate cohesion with a common objective.

    Moreover, a simple, but structured approach of an organisational structure that meets professional, operational, governmental and legal remits. Something that applies to all in society. Arts are not an exclusion. From this, funders will take serious more the intent. There is enough energy and professional bodies to enable this to happen and from myself and other associate artists of Transvoyeur, those who will still be based in Liverpool, and similar like minded people will be willing to provide full support to. However, clearly defined structure is needed.

    A demonstration from all is something paramount, because in my opinion no takes the Independents serious and enough apathy was generated last time that it permeates now. The issue is to reverse this, show to ourselves and indeed all concerned, funders and alike, it is something that has relevance to the broader spectrum of arts and culture in the city, etc.. Example though has to come from those at the top of the food chain in the Independents and by positive and constructive action generally similar follows.

    I sincerely believe it is one to nurture belief in the Independents again. This is the hardest task.

    The proposal to contact said parties is a start and more over a demonstration that represents a proportion and viability of such.

    There is enough drive and passion from different practitioners in this city, but it is about time it was explicated. Nothing can change without a form of unification on this subject of the Independents.

    My professional and personal opinion is that there has been enough negativity on this and time is now for positive action and to implicitly believe such can work, not through blind self preservation, as everything in the infrastructure of arts and culture interrelates through all the various avenues of commerce,local government, social, civic, etc..

    One never breaks down a wall in one go, but through collective effort and affirmative action, bit by bit such is weakened. In other words, persistance, perservence from all is very much needed.

    There is a lot of good in the city of Liverpool from those as artists based here and it is time it was made evident.

  2. Oops! Typos – ‘perseverance’ nd ‘persistence’.

    Whatever happens in this situation with the history of the Independents, such has to start to be done for the right reasons by all concerned. My simple and mere opinion coming from the backwaters! LOL! Admittedly, I am not from Liverpool, but outside. Yet, I have seen some wonderful art and people.

    Truly though, there is so many positive things here and it is time such expression of shared ownership by contribution in the arts was made by all. Everyone plays an integral and valid part.

    Oh! My! I sound like a Marxist! Not intended, but there are some philosophies that stand true and I believe their are many good people who do exceptional work and should make known their feelings.

    The recommendations above to contact various parties is just, as it raises awareness, something long overdue.

    Negative things happen, but such one learns by to try to be a wiser person. The postive is that which we celebrate and hold onto as long as such is permissable in life.

    LOL! Sorry in philosophical mode this evening (visions of Grass Hopper in my head! LOL!) … but, I do sincerely believe there is good and if tried resolutions can be made, but such requires effort.

    I will sod off now! Said my piece! LOL!


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