by Bryan Biggs, Director, Bluecoat Arts Center and Margaretha Schönlng, Project Coordinator, 2002.
Whilst you might think of Hamburg, with its port and Mersey beat links, as Liverpool's natural German twin, it is in fact with the Rhine city of Cologne that an official partnership has existed for almost half a century. The earliest sister city relationship for both cities, the link was established in 1952, and over the years it has developed through cultural exchanges at different levels, from civic to grass roots.
Cologne is one of Europe's premier centres for visual arts with a plethora of galleries and a huge community of artists. lt was in this context that venues in Liverpool initiated a series of exhibition exchanges in 1987, enabling local artists to show their work in this prestigious environment, whilst at the same time presenting to Liverpool audiences new art trom a city at the forefront of contemporary art practice. The Bluecoat continued to develop this very fruitful link, working with Cologne's BBK Gallery through three further exchanges, whilst the newly opened Tate Gallery curated a major exhibition, Art from Köln, in 1989.
The concept of Eight Days A Week came from Cologne writer and critic Jürgen Kisters, whose interest in Liverpool art grew from an artists' forum he attended at the Bluecoat on the occasion of its Cologne exhibition Science Friction in 1995. Three years later, following several research visits, he organised - in collaboration with artist Georg Gartz and the Bluecoat - an ambitious season celebrating Merseyside art and culture, featuring over 30 exhibitions, film screenings, music and poetry events, artist residencies and educational activities, the largest manifestation of the exchange to date.
At the heart of this enterprise was a genuine interest in Liverpool, not only the obvious pop and football aspects, but also the work of contemporary artists and the way they reflect the culture of the city. Many of these artists visited Cologne for the festival, establishing links with venues, organisations and individual artists there, links that have continued to grow. For instance, this year alone there have been a further seven exhibitions by Liverpool artists in Cologne, all as a direct result of the 1998 event.
Building on these relationships, a group of arts venues, artists and other interested parties has been working together over the past two years to reciprocate the first Eight Days A Week festival, retaining its title and inviting Cologne artists to present their work in Liverpool this Autumn. Though predominantly visual arts, the activity also includes music and literature, as well as an educational dimension. And several of the events are collaborative in nature, involving artists from both cities. We believe that through artists and venues working together in this very direct way, the dialogue will continue to develop, further strengthening the connection between our two cities as we approach the 50th anniversary of this special relationship in 2002.
Develop Creative Dialogue
Eight Days a Week seeks to develop creative dialogue between the cities of Liverpool and Cologne through an ongoing cultural exchange programme that promotes greater awareness and understanding of each other. Collaboration is at its heart, providing opportunities for artists and other individuals, venues and organisations in both cities to participate. Its focus is on the contemporary arts and on developing access to them through educational and other partnerships.
These are included work throughout the Northwest & koln, some part of which have related to the Liverpool Biennial and the European City of Culture 2008 programme. We are a significant organisation that is artist led which has created collaborations and projects with the many and diverse artists, institutions and organisations in the city. In many ways we can synthesise and promote the creative energies of the city and are accountable to the differing audiences and institutions in the region
Eight Days a Week facilitates artists from Liverpool and Cologne taking part in unique cultural exchanges through an ongoing programme of exhibitions, residencies, films, performances, discussions and publications. Eight Days a Week projects in both Liverpool and Cologne are the result of collaborations between artists working with a number of venues and sites, including galleries, colleges, artists’ spaces, civic buildings, alternative exhibition venues like community centers, the cathedrals and churches, and the Internet. Since its beginnings in 1998 we have organised over 90 projects in Liverpool and Cologne and developed creative offshoots and networks in Germany - in Hagen, Simonskall, Wiesbaden - as well as in Tunisia.
Members from Eight Days a Week.
Eight Days a Week Steering Group
Eight Days a Week has developed a steering group to plan ongoing exchange Projects in Liverpool and Koln developing exhibitions, conferences and a significant publication to document the philosophy and history of the project. This will include developing an archive and significant publication to document the 10 Years `Eight days' reciprocal exchange projects since its inception in 1998 to 2008. Eight days will develop ongoing cultural programmes and exhibition opportunities in 2005, 6 & 7 leading up to 2008 and the European City of Culture.
The steering group will develop the `Eight Days' Project to define its organisational framework, its mission and objectives to facilitate new opportunities for artists, widening participation and audience development for contemporary art in the North West within the context of Europe. The steering group in Liverpool includes artists like Neil Morris, Liverpool JMU, Lin Holland, Liverpool Hope, Bryan Biggs, Bluecoat Gallery, Alan Dunn, Fact, Margit Schoening & Sue Leask at Basement, Alan Webster, Frakture and James Buso representing Arena Studios relating to similar partner organisations in Cologne.
Collaborative Practice, Pete Clarke Liverpool and Georg Gartz, Koln Fine Art studios, Central Lancashire, Preston.
Developing Audiences and Participation
Eight Days a Week seeks to open up artists’ practices to new audiences and new communities, to generate informed and critical public debate around contemporary art and culture, to develop educational links and participatory opportunities involving a range of established and new community organisations across Merseyside and the Cologne region. We plan to coordinate a series of Discussion Forums around Merseyside to facilitate this process. The target audience will be students, recent graduates and people working and interested in the cultural industries and given the composition of the steering group we are confident we can maximise these opportunities to develop these and reach new audiences.
Eight Days A Week have negotiate with organisations and venues, their curators, educationalists and community development officers who have participated in the programme over recent years, including Bluecoat Arts Centre, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool University, Liverpool Hope, Liverpool Community College, Blackburn House, Croxteth Hall, Kirkby Unemployed Centre, Knowsley Galleries in Kirkby and Huyton, Unity Theatre, Arena Studios, Merseyside Youth Association and the Basement Project.
In addition to this we will create new opportunities to develop site related works and exhibitions in alternative places and spaces, schools and colleges, churches and cathedrals.
Website Design: Tony Knox