Grand Union Collaborates

Working with and for our communities, we are committed to developing and supporting quality artistic activity beyond the gallery space.  We explore new sites and contexts for the public to engage with art. We connect people and practices – artists, curators and audiences – to exchange and engage with each other. A multiplicity of voices contribute to, and participate in, our programmes and organisation.

We work with NPO partners BE Festival, BOM, Capsule, Centrala, Craftspace, Eastside Projects, Fierce, Flatpack Festival, Free Radical, Friction Arts, Grand Union, Shout Festival and Stan’s Cafe to position Birmingham as THE ARTIST FRIENDLY CITY by sharing programmes and learning and working as a network to support talent and develop artists, producers and organisers. This group also works with Culture Central to emphasise this and articulate the city as the place for artistic development across disciplines (visual art, theatre, music, art and technology).

Modern Clay & Crisis

Artists Mark Essen, Suzie Osborn and Patrick Goodall have been working in the Modern Clay Studio with Crisis members as part of their ‘creative learning programme’.  During the last year they have worked closely with the Crisis Members to develop their individual skills and abilities through weekly workshops. The range of ceramic ware formed part of an exhibition for Digbeth First Friday in April 2018.  The educational partnership will continue throughout 2018-19. Grand Union are working with Crisis to co-curate and develop a strategic response to their “everybody in campaign” and responds to Grand Union’s extended programme and research “Notes on care….”

Crisis supports people out of homelessness for good. Through education, training and support with housing, employment and health. They offer one to one support, advice and courses for homeless people in 12 areas across England, Scotland and Wales.

Modern Clay is a studio project run by Mark Essen it provides a studio facility for the production of ceramics. It aims to explore the purpose of arts in society using the artists studio and how it can connect within the community it is located. The studio is accessible by artists, local community groups, artist educational projects and charitable groups.

The Feast

It was heartening to see young people from different schools, backgrounds and faiths working together but more importantly becoming friends.”

The Feast Leader

Grand Union is working with THE FEAST to develop a collaborative programme between artists and young people. THE FEAST looks for different ways to engage young people of different faiths, who would never have otherwise met, to enable them to make friends, explore identity and talk about faith. Over the last few years Grand Union has partnered with THE FEAST to unite young people through the medium of art, working with artists such as Susie Green, Mitra Saboury, Eric Moschopedis and Mia Ruston to respond to, play and explore ideas through Grand Unions exhibition programme.

University of Birmingham

Since 2016 Grand Union has collaborated with the Department of History, Curating and Visual Studies at the University of Birmingham to create opportunities for early career curators to co-curate their first public exhibition and programme of events.

Grand Union’s Director Cheryl Jones and Programme Director Kim McAleese lead taught sessions on contemporary curating providing regular mentorship and support for students to realise exhibitions of an experimental and ambitious scale.



As part of their ongoing commitment to support artists in the region, Bruntwood property developers commissioned Grand Union studio holder Joanne Masding to produce a permanent site specific work for their new Cornerblock building in Birmingham city centre.

This has extended into a new partnership with Bruntwood, in which new sites of studio spaces are being explored.  This partnership has been developed to enable artists to engage in a non-art environment exchanging new ideas and knowledge across sectors, creating innovative and experimental approaches to studio practice.

Birmingham City University

Grand Union is working in partnership with Birmingham City University to offer four graduates free co-working space for 12 months.

The co-working studio compliments Grand Union’s existing provision of 12 artists’ studios and Modern Clay, a ceramics facility offering open access to artist and community groups in the region. Grand Union also houses an internationally recognised gallery that hosts a regular programme of exhibitions, talks, workshops and performances.

Studio holders benefit from 24-hour access to a free, shared workspace (34 m2) for 11 months and mentoring from Grand Union’s Curatorial team.