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Protest Lab Artist Commission

Budget available for delivery and production: £13,000 (inclusive of VAT)
Contract Saturday 17 August 2019 to Saturday 15 February 2020

People’s History Museum (PHM) require an artist/artist collective or group to plan, facilitate and deliver a youth led project that allows three groups to explore what happened at the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester on 16 August 1819, and then develop their own personal campaign with a combined artistic outcome.


2019 marks 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre, a major event in Manchester’s history, and a defining moment for Britain’s democracy.  To commemorate this monumental anniversary, PHM are exploring the changing face of protest: past, present and future through a year long programme of exhibitions, events and learning sessions exploring creative disobedience and its role in today’s ideas worth fighting for, in the spirit of those who gathered at Peterloo.

Key objectives

  • To raise historical awareness of Peterloo amongst young people, providing a clear understanding of what happened at St Peter’s Field on 16 August 1819; explaining the historical context as to why the massacre occurred, alongside discussing its legacy
  • Raise the profile of PHM as a campaigning museum
  • Support young people in developing and delivering their own creative campaign; giving voice to the ideas they believe are worth fighting for today and raising public awareness of young people’s campaigns
  • To look at the impact of non-violent creative and civil disobedience and the importance of everyday activism to build a world based on compassion and equality
  • To demonstrate the significance and relevance of Peterloo today; how it links to ideas people are fighting for today


The brief

The museum’s headline exhibition Disrupt? Peterloo and Protest, runs until 23 February 2020 and forms part of the national Peterloo bicentenary commemorations.  Within this exhibition we have created a Protest Lab; an experimental space that seeks to represent and give voice to activism across Greater Manchester and examine issues of democracy that people are campaigning for 200 years since the Manchester massacre.  This space aims to engage people in their heritage and inspire activism and action today.

There are three overriding themes guiding the development of Protest Lab and we are particularly keen to receive expressions of interest in response to these themes:

  • Creative disobedience
  • Collective action
  • Everyday activism


For this commission we are interested in receiving expressions of interest from individual artists and/or artist collectives or groups who have experience of developing and delivering high quality co-produced art projects in collaboration with marginalised and under-represented communities.  The selected artist(s) will work with young people from across three partner organisations, RECLAIM, 42nd Street and Manchester Secondary Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) to develop, plan and deliver a high quality artistic outcome that amplifies each of the particular campaign issues that each group would like to focus on.  The artist(s) will work with each group of young people to create a new campaign or work on an existing one to be shared and developed within Protest Lab.  PHM staff and designated staff from each partnership organisation will support the project.

Main criteria

This is a youth led project and you will work alongside young people (11 to 25)co-producing the final output.

We are open to receiving proposals from artists who work across a wide range of artistic practice; which can include: activist art, installation, visual arts, illustration, digital, film, animation, drama, music, outdoors arts, dance and opera.

We are working with young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND) requirements who may not respond to traditional teaching methods.  Please note there may be mixed abilities in one group that need to be catered for.

The artist will help foster individual creativity as well as participatory work.

The artist(s) will develop a project plan that includes a series of workshops that work with each group of young people independently but brings each project together through the creation of a unified artistic outcome.

The development and process of each project will be documented within Protest Lab, and whilst its creative outcome can be exhibited within Protest Lab, we are particularly interested in hearing from artists with ideas for offsite creative outcomes.

The project must have a digital strand; this could be the documentation process, part of the workshops or the final creative output.

Although we want this project to be innovative and inspire activism, the project cannot involve action that breaks the law.

The work produced will be inspired by the story of Peterloo and why it is still relevant and important today.

The artist will support and conduct evaluation throughout the project with the support of staff from PHM.

You will have to have a full Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check as part of this commission.

You will need to be available to work on the project throughout the timeframes listed below.

Interview and selection process

A youth panel of representatives from each organisation will be involved in both the shortlisting of artists and the interview sessions for this commission, with the support of staff from PHM team.

Key dates

Applications open: Wednesday 26 June 2019
Applications closing date: Monday 5 August 2019 at 5.00pm
Interview date (by youth panel):  w/c Monday 12 August 2019
Successful artist(s) notified: By Friday 16 August 2019
Delivery phase start and finish: Saturday 17 August 2019 and Saturday 15 February 2020

A showcase event will take place at the end of the project with the support of staff from PHM and the partner organisations, led by the lead artist (s) and young people involved.


The budget available for delivery and production is £13,000 (inclusive of VAT).  This budget is inclusive of all artist fees and materials involved in the co-ordination, delivery and production of the project. Please note there is a separate budget for travel and refreshments for the young people involved that staff from PHM will manage in consultation with the selected artist(s) and partner organisations.

Suggested breakdown:    £9,000 Artist fee(s) and £4,000 materials

To apply:

If you would like to submit an expression of interest, please send a short email, video message or sound recording to Michael Powell, Programme & Learning Officer on by 5.00pm on Monday 5 August 2019, including the following information:

  • Full contact details
  • Relevant visual examples from your portfolio and/or a link to your show reel
  • A short statement (500 words) outlining your approach to the brief, and why you want to work on this project including an initial concept for the project. Please note that as young people are involved in the shortlisting process we are seeking clear and visual proposals
  • A full budget breakdown alongside a breakdown of how you would divide your time between each group
  • The names of two referees

As an outcome of the shortlisting process, three artists / artist collectives or groups will be invited to pitch their idea to the young people at interview.  There will be a fee of £100 per artist / artist collective or group to develop this pitch idea beyond the initial expression of interest.

If you are unable to send an email, video message or sound recording you can call 0161 838 9190 and ask to speak with a member of the Programme Team or you can also the above information by post to:

Programme Team
People’s History Museum
Left Bank
Manchester M3 3ER

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