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Everyman Theatre call for artists to design a plaque honouring abolitionist Frederick Douglass

9 months ago

Everyman Theatre call for artists to design a plaque honouring abolitionist Frederick Douglass
Everyman Theatre

In 2021 the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse 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.

Today they announce a commission for an artist with a connection to Liverpool City Region, to create a plaque for the front of the Everyman Theatre 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.

Laurence Westgaph said:

“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 you’re invited to submit your designs for a plaque which 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” 

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) and  Mark Da Vanzo  (CEO, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse).

The winning submission will receive an artist fee of £1,000; a separate budget exists for creation and installation. 

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.”. 

The plaque will be positioned on the front of the Everyman to the right of the main entrance. It will be unveiled on Friday 19 January 2024, 164 years since Douglass spoke at Hope Hall. 

Submissions, which are encouraged from Global Majority artists, must be received by midday on Monday 20 November and full details are available HERE.

For more info on the Everyman Theatre click HERE.

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