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Artist call out for plaque to mark abolitionist Frederick Douglass at the Everyman

Call out from Everyman + Playhouse:

In 2021 we discovered, thanks to historian Laurence Westgaph, that prominent abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke at Hope Hall (now the site of the Everyman Theatre) back in 1860. We’re announcing a commission for an artist with a connection to Liverpool City Region, to create a plaque for the front of the Everyman to commemorate Douglass and be a lasting physical reminder of the struggle for freedom and reform.

Laurence, historian in residence at National Museums Liverpool, collaborated with local theatre company Falling Doors and the theatres to explore the role of the slave trade in the development of the city. As he explains,

“There were four writers on the project and as we did more research, we discovered that Douglass had spoken on the site of what is now the Everyman Theatre. I’m looking forward to working with the team to find an artist to create a fitting plaque to detail Frederick Douglass’ role not just as an abolitionist but as a social reformer, feminist and orator of great importance.”

If you’re an artist with a connection to Liverpool City Region (either by birth or as a current resident), then we’d love to hear from you! Submissions, which are encouraged from Global Majority artists, must be received by midday on Monday 20 November and the winning artist will receive a fee of £1,000 (with an additional budget allocated for creation and installation).

Submissions will be reviewed by a panel including Laurence Westgaph (Liverpool Black History Research Group) and Adeyinka Olushonde (Liverpool Black Mens Group), Dr Teena Cartwright-Terry (Chair of the theatres’ Diversity Action Group), Nancy Msiska (Falling Doors Theatre Company and Young Everyman Playhouse Graduate), Lucy Byrne (Director of dot-art), history students from Bluecoat School and Mark Da Vanzo (CEO, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse). 

The plaque will be unveiled on Friday 19 January 2024, 164 years since Douglass spoke at Hope Hall.

Dr Teena Cartwright-Terry said:

“A deeply passionate activist and powerful orator, Frederick Douglass worked tirelessly for civil rights, women’s rights and the abolition of slavery. It is a duty and a privilege to study, understand and celebrate his connection to our amazing and diverse city. We have a brilliant team with Laurence and the Liverpool Black History Research Group working alongside A level history students to research and honour his legacy and to highlight this on our Everyman site in a beautiful way for future generations.”

If you are interested in making a submission, here’s the important information:

1. Designs for a plaque must include a representation of Douglass and the following text:

“Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist.”

Frederick Douglass, 1818-1895

An American social reformer, abolitionist and statesman, who spoke at Hope Hall on this site in 1860

2. The plaque can be any shape but must fall within the 1200mm wide by 1055 mm deep. It will be positioned on the front of the Everyman to fit in a space above the fire doors on the right of the main entrance, as highlighted below.

3. The plaque will be created and installed by local company and will be zinc with a bronze resin coat finish as in the example from the India Buildings below:

India Buildings plaque

4. Artists must submit their proposal as a pdf to by Monday 20 November at midday, along with the following details: Name, contact details (email and mobile) and their connection to Liverpool City Region (either by birth or as a current resident).
5. The panel will meet in late November and all artists will be informed of the decision by 8 December at the latest via email.