At last, after two-and-a-half years of thinking, dreaming, organising and unstinting effort, Look11, Liverpool's first international photography festival is born. On the web at least.
The launch of the festival's superb new interactive website took place last night at a packed 3345, one of the city's coolest bars. The website will be the platform and forum in the lead up to the festival's opening on 12th May next year. Look11 will feature exhibitions, workshops, mass-participation events, community engagement projects and much, much more. It will also play host to the third National Photography Symposium, run by Redeye, the photography network in the North West of England.
The programme for the festival is being finalised by the staff, led by Artistic Director Stephen Snoddy, supported by Festival Manager Daniel Cutmore and a host of volunteers and interested people. We have been engaged with key partners for over two years to get to the point where all the major city institutions are behind the festival and will contribute to what will - hopefully - be a successful first festival.
If you are wondering why I am standing in the middle of the photograph grinning, it's not because I have just won first prize in the raffle, but as Chair of the Board of Directors of Look11 I was obliged to say a few words. Thankfully for the assembled crowd (which numbered over 100) I kept it brief. Just time to say a big thank you to everyone involved in the festival, including Loaf Creative who developed the branding and website, Stephen, Daniel and the team at Look11 and my fellow Board members whose unstinting hard work, support and belief in the project has carried us forward to this point. And to thank the major funders who have allowed us the opportunity to take the project on.
Our hope and aspiration is that the photographic community of the Liverpool city region and beyond will embrace the festival and its theme: asking whether photography is a call to action and engage in a debate around themes of social justice and whether photography can and should make a difference in changing our world for the better.
Whatever your relationship to photography the festival would love to hear from you. It's your festival, not ours and as I said last night: Liverpool used to do three things really well: photography, festivals and football. At least we still do two things well. Shame about the football!
See you all in May!