Working with and for our communities, we are committed to developing and supporting quality artistic activity beyond the gallery space.
Our purpose-built studios are a key part of our organisation and bring together an ambitious community of individual artists and creative practitioners.
Grand Union explores new sites and contexts for the public to engage with art, 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 an impressive network of partner organisations in the city who form part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio – BE Festival, BOM, Capsule, Centrala, Craftspace, Eastside Projects, Fierce, Flatpack Festival, Free Radical, Friction Arts, Shout Festival, Stan’s Cafe and Vivid Projects – to position Birmingham as THE ARTIST FRIENDLY CITY. We do this 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).
Grand Union houses purpose-built studios providing creative, professional and secure working space for visual artists in the city. We hold regular open studio events, giving visitors the opportunity to meet our artists and see their current works in progress. Find out more about our studio community and the huge range of artistic practices here.
Modern Clay is a studio facility housed at Grand Union, for the production of ceramics. It is accessible for artists and encouraged that the studio is available to be used by local community groups, artist educational projects and charitable groups. The studio is a resource for artists to produce their own work while developing a new programme of artistic opportunities for West Midlands artists. It offers support for community groups and is part of developing a new programme of artistic opportunities for West Midlands artists.
Six local people have been invited to meet to reimagine the area of Digbeth, its people and its story and use this speculative fiction to advise on Grand Union’s programming, how the gallery thinks about its future and the future of lots of residents/small business owners/arts organisations in Digbeth.
Grand Union have been meeting with City Council and neighbouring organisations and businesses such as Friends of the Earth, Oval estates and The Polish Centre, to address the concerns of the current issues HS2 construction is presenting, e.g. blocking of major pedestrian routes into Digbeth from the city centre, and considering methods for improving access to Digbeth.
“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.
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.
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.
Grand Union is working with Intoart to develop a strand of artist development programme that sees artists and curators connected with both organisations collaborating and producing ambitious new work.
Intoart’s Artists Direct Change programme of activity will open up opportunities for individual artistic development and progression routes for people with learning disabilities practising as artists. It will show how by investing in artists we can address low expectations, othering and cultural exclusion.