New dates announced for Independents Biennial

New dates announced for Independents Biennial

The next edition of Independents Biennial will be 20th March – 6th June 2021. Following the festival’s postponement alongside Liverpool Biennial earlier this year the hope is that the new dates feel like an extension of the old.

It is still uncertain how the programme will be funded, as funding was put on hold when Arts Council England announced they were moving all unassigned project grants into their COVID-19 Emergency Fund. While we don’t know how the programme will be funded, we do know that it will look very different to what we had initially proposed.

Next year’s Independents Biennial will not be a festival, it will be – if everything goes to plan – a programme. It will pay artists (including those already selected*). It will focus on making private conversations public, and including artists and audiences in debates on issues that deeply impact the quality of the visual art they are presented with.

We will still support the traditional shape of Independents Biennial by promoting independently produced programmes in print and online, but want to focus on how we as producers can actively shape expectations of visual arts programmes.

That means we’ll be working with a steering group for the Independents which is made up of local artists and producers who can support the delivery of the programme. It means we’ll be paying artists for their time, not for their output. And we’ll be actively taking part in conversations instigated by artists and audiences on everything from barriers to access for working class artists, D/Deaf and Disabled artists, Black artists and artists from other minority backgrounds, to the fundamental structures of creative education, and how language shapes our understanding of visual art.

Throughout lockdown we’ve also been given some amazing opportunities to connect to some of the North West’s most exciting new graduate work, working with Liverpool Hope University and Manchester School of Art final year students towards developing their work beyond the walls of academia. The work of these artists is truly inspirational and we’re looking forward to working with them alongside the region’s professional and established artists.

We’re proud to be working with some incredible artists and producers and will be in conversations with them and others about how they want to work within this new programme.

In partnership with Metal Liverpool, we’re proud to be working with Pierce Starre, Sufea Noor, Jay Hampton and Sorrel Kerrison. The four artists have access to free studio space at Metal for six months leading up to the live programme, and we will be commissioning their work for the final programme.

Open Eye Galley selected three artists for a digital window display during Independents Biennial 2020. In 2021, we’re delighted that these artists will be funded through the programme for their time and travel – especially as two out of the three have had to permanently move away from Liverpool due to COVID-19.

Already commissioned artists in St Helens, thanks to the council’s Arts in Libraries service, will be represented in new ways through the programme space once we’ve discussed their roles with them as individual artists.

The biggest barrier to this project is funding. We are working towards funding this programme now and will continue until it is confirmed.

The expectation of being allowed to use space in normal ways by Spring next year is also crucial to these plans. We will be developing digital programmes alongside the physical ones, and creating spaces where people feel safe to engage without the omen of infection.


Independents Biennial 20201
20th March – 6th June

*we haven’t had the chance to talk to all selected artists yet. If you’ve not been contacted, we’ll be in touch soon.