The City Tribune
The Business of Culture / The Culture of Business
Gallery owner Lucy Byrne is ready for the International Festival Business to help her connect culture with business.
IFB delegates are already likely to have benefitted from Lucy Byrne’s mission without realising it. Artworks provided by Byrne’s dot-art gallery adorn the festival’s hub space on the third and fourth floors of No 1 Mann Island, bringing the previously- unused space to life and giving attendees a taste of what’s on offer from Liverpool’s art scene.
The exhibition is part of the art history graduate’s drive to connect artists and cultural organisations to businesses. It’s a relationship which can be fraught with problems but‚ thanks to Byrne’s work at the Queens Avenue gallery and as Chair of Liverpool Chamber’s Arts and Culture Committee ‚ one that is beginning to flourish. “It’s interesting to have a foot in both camps and being involved in lots of different worlds. I definitely see myself as a businesswoman because it’s my job to help artists make a living. That’s what I do, in lots of different ways” says Lucy, en route to hang the first of the locally-themed pieces.
As well as the hub gallery, dot-art also has a schools programme which is working with IFB in helping young artists get noticed. The dot-art Schools Exhibition ran at the Walker Art Gallery until the 8 June, showcasing the cream of Merseyside’s young artistic talent, continuing a very busy few months for Byrne, who also helped organise the Liverpool Art Fair in May.
Delegates will be able to enjoy the specially selected hub art work throughout IFB, however. The river-side building houses the registration point for festival attendees, press and VIP areas and a recording studio, as well as an office for the city’s mayor. The 20 pieces on display present different artistic styles and various areas of Merseyside, including a large moody oil painting of the Liver Building by Garry Lawlan, an expressionist depiction of off-shore wind turbines by Grahame Ashcroft and some John Whitelaw-produced digital prints of the city’s famous skyline.
As well as wanting to encourage a culture of art buying in the area by selling affordable local paintings, Byrne is also passionate about promoting artists and cultural products to businesses. “We know in the cultural sector we have lots of products and services that businesses could be buying from us, instead of from commercial organisations. Therefore, they would not be spending any more money but supporting the cultural infrastructure of the city, which I think everyone agrees is very beneficial” says Byrne, describing the Arts and Culture Committee’s latest initiative, “perhaps businesses are far too busy to find these things and small arts organisations find it very difficult to make themselves visible.”
The committee is currently working on a cultural directory which enables business to easily engage with cultural and arts organisations. The print and online directory will include arts and cultural organisations from across the city, listing all the products and services they can offer businesses. It’s a worthy cause and certainly one which The City Tribune, a publication which also espouses the virtues of connecting business with culture, endorses.
IFB is a golden opportunity for Liverpoo’s myriad cultural organisations to promote their wares and the festival’s cultural programme is evidence that many are seizing the opportunity. Byrne agrees that, after some initial characteristic scepticism, Merseysiders’ are ready to utilise the event to its full potential: “I think everyone is beginning to take the attitude that it’s a great opportunity and we have to grab it by the throat and get what we can from it. A lot of the cultural organisations are doing these wonderful things anyway, it’s just hopefully going to get them a bigger audience.”
That audience can enjoy the array of art at the hub and indeed purchase any of it up until the close of the festival. Art and business do mix.
Featured image: ‘Mann Island 3′ by John Petch