Category: News

22, the creative anthology commissioned by LAAF as a response to COP26 is to be exhibited at Open Eye’s Digital Window Gallery until 13 February.

22 is a creative anthology by Arab artists from 22 countries across the Middle East and North Africa. Commissioned by Liverpool Arab Arts Festival as a rapid response to COP26, the artistic works include music, visual art, poetry, illustration and photography and highlight the disproportionate impact the climate crisis is having on the countries and communities living within the MENA region.

From water shortages to population displacement, changes in climate and failing crops, the impact of the climate crisis is worsened by the continuing hangovers of conflict and colonialism, meaning the issues already existing in the MENA region are exacerbated.

As global leaders gathered in Glasgow for COP26, each of the 22 artists provided an insight into how the climate crisis is affecting their community. As a creative anthology it creates a time capsule at a crucial moment in history.

Arab voices are not strongly heard within the climate crisis conversation in the West, despite the disproportionate and severe effects those on the ground are facing. Capturing the hopes and fears of a generation of Arab artists, 22 reflects the range of perceptions and preoccupations of those living in or with heritage of these specific Arab areas.

22 exhibits at Open Eye as the Look Climate Lab 2022 launches, ahead of the Look Photo Biennial 2022, the Climate Lab is a series of research projects on climate change. Read more here

The show will be played on the digital screen 11am-4pm Wed-Sun, between Wed 19 Jan – Sun 13 Feb

Explore 22 below 

For the first time, Liverpool’s arts organisations have come together in a brand new campaign promoting Liverpool’s impressive cultural credentials.

The Everyman and Playhouse Theatres, Katumba, Bluecoat, Liverpool Philharmonic, Metal Culture, Homotopia, FACT, DaDaFest, The Comedy Trust and Liverpool Arab Arts Festival are just some of around 50 names forming part of the Culture Collective campaign which proudly highlights the city’s vast and diverse culture offer. 

Billboards and advertising hoardings across Liverpool and Manchester will be emblazoned with slogans including ‘The Place is Liverpool. The Time is Now’, ‘Every Language. Every Accent. Every Artform. Every Style.’ and ‘Welcome to the city where the best stories begin…’

Local artists, Raven and Dayzy, are joining forces with Liverpool-based video director Jack Whiteley and GoPlay recording studios to bring the campaign to life with a specially created soundtrack which pays homage to the city’s enviable cultural scene.  This will be showcased on the official website – – and on cultural social media channels. 

The arts sector has been one of the hardest hit as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic – with many venues closed for long periods or unable to curate in-person programmes due to changes to restrictions.

The Culture Collective is an initiative aimed at attracting local and regional visitors back to the city, shining a spotlight on the huge array of establishments that make up the region’s live performance, music and dance, galleries and exhibitions, film and digital technologies, comedy, festivals and museums.

This new way of collaborative working means resources, including the wealth of creative skills and experience, can all be shared and cross-promoted. 

The importance of the sector was highlighted by the most recent figures which show Liverpool’s leisure, creative and cultural industries:

  • Bring in around £3.3bn to the city region each year
  • Equates to 38 per cent of the city’s economy
  • See a business rate contribution of 49.8 per cent. This means £270.5million is invested in core services such as social care, health care and in education. 
  • Supports 60,000 jobs 

An analysis of 27 cultural organisations funded through the city council’s Cultural Arts Investment Programme showed that in 2021/22, 250,487 people attended live events – significantly lower than the 4.5million recorded in 2019/20. 

The Culture Collective campaign has been funded through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund which is administered by Arts Council England, some of the cultural organisations involved and Liverpool City Council. A second phase of the project will launch later this year.


Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy, Councillor Harry Doyle: 

“This is a hugely exciting campaign involving around 50 cultural organisations – from names that need no introduction, to those whose work is less well known but who are just as awe-inspiring – and they’re all working together to send out the message that their doors are open and they can’t wait to welcome back audiences – old and new. 

“Despite the horrendous challenges this sector has faced over the past two years, their resilience is inspiring and there is a real sense of positivity about the potential of 2022 and the return of local, national and hopefully international visitors. They simply can’t wait to show people what’s in store this year – from big nights out and reflective moments, to belly laughs and enjoying that shared moment of joy with others. 

“Our city’s creative teams are itching to welcome people back and by working together we can shine a spotlight on the city once again and see our much-loved cultural sector come alive and thrive.” 

Mary Cloake, Chief Executive, the Bluecoat:

“As one of the city’s best loved arts venues, the Bluecoat is delighted to be part of a campaign to remind people of Liverpool’s rich cultural offer and the joy to be found in seeing a show, spending time in a gallery or doing something creative. 

“Liverpool needs people to thrive, and Bluecoat is playing a key part in reinvigorating the city centre alongside other cultural attractions. We’ve done our best to ensure our historic building is safe for visitors so that people can start to enjoy culture again. While we were closed during lockdown we transformed our entrance area so if you haven’t visited recently come down and see our fresh new look.” 

Michael Eakin, Chief Executive of Liverpool Philharmonic: 

“We’re delighted to work with Culture Liverpool and arts organisations across our city on the Culture Collective campaign, which will highlight Liverpool’s world-class cultural offer. 

“As with the culture sector as a whole, the pandemic has posed significant challenges to Liverpool Philharmonic, but since Autumn 2021 we have once again presented a busy and artistically vibrant programme of visiting artists from around the world. We are looking forward to continuing to welcome our audiences back to Liverpool Philharmonic in the year ahead.”

Elinor Randle, Artistic Director – Tmesis Theatre, and spokesperson for the COoL Collective (Creative Organisations of Liverpool) which represents 27 key arts organisations based in the Liverpool City Region:

“We are very proud of the collective and the collaborative way we work across a wide variety of art forms and communities. This campaign is exciting as it highlights the rich diversity of incredible work our city region has to offer. We look forward to sharing work, collaborating and welcoming visitors to our festivals and events in 2022!”


Many thrilling voices. One incredible story…

We’re proud to be one voice among the many that make up our city’s amazing cultural story, and we hope you take time to discover what we have to offer.

But remember that there are also others who deserve to be heard too, and we’d love to introduce you to some of these wonderful venues and organisations that share our home.

Because the place is Liverpool.

The time is now.

And this is the city where the best stories begin.


Everyone’s invited.

Liverpool is rich with restless creators – a bubbling stew of artists, companies, groups and venues dedicated to ingenious invention, to the spice and sparkle of new ideas for you, your friends and family to enjoy.

From names that need no introduction, to those whose work is less well known but just as vivid, we can’t wait to show you what we’ve got in store. From big nights out and reflective moments, to belly laughs and quiet sighs, our city’s creative teams are itching to welcome you back to where the best stories happen…




Starring Dayzy & Raven

Directed & Edited by Jack Whiteley 

Produced by Carl Davies at FACT 

Director of Photography: Jamie Haigherty

Focus Puller: Carl Davies 

Gaffer: Chris Moore at Tunstall Film Services

2nd Unit DOP: Jack Whiteley & Carl Davies

Drone Footage: Ant Clausen

Stylist: Beth Jones

Hair & Make-up: Eve Jenkins 

Colourist: Juliette Wileman at Absolute Post 

Sound Design: Joe Wills 

Special Thanks: Laura Johnson, Josh Rowe, Clare Wilde, Jessica Fairclough, Farhana Khan, Dominic Beaumont, Jay Hynd, David Wright, Olivia Graham, Sumuyya Khader, Joanna Rowlands, Jack Welsh, Wesley Storey, Mark McNulty, House of Suarez, Lili Taijaard, Ally Goodman, Emily Guest, Michael Parry, Melodic Distraction, 24 Kitchen Street and Invisible Wind Factory.


Written & Performed By: Dayzy & Raven

Produced By: Fourthirteen

Engineer & Mix By: GoPlay Studios

Mix & Master: Loft Mastering

Music Direction By: Yaw Owusu, The Playmaker Group


20 Stories High | All Things Considered Theatre | Arts Groupie | BlackFest | Bluecoat | BrazUKa | Collective Encounters | DaDaFest | dot-art| FACT | First Take | Focal Studios | Homotopia | International Slavery Museum | Katumba | Kitchen Sink Live | Lady Lever Art Gallery | Liverpool Arab Arts Festival | Liverpool Biennial | Liverpool Empire | Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatres | Liverpool Irish Festival | Liverpool’s Royal Court | Luma Creations | Maritime Museum | Merseyside Dance Initiative | Metal | Movema | OLC Productions | Open Culture | Open Eye Gallery | Pagoda Arts | Paperwork Theatre | Royal Liverpool Philharmonic  | Squash | Sudley House | Tate Liverpool | The Atkinson | The Black-E | The Comedy Trust | The Windows Project | Tmesis Theatre | Unity Theatre | Wired Aerial Theatre | World Museum | Writing on the Wall

This project has been supported using public funding by Arts Council England ( and Culture Liverpool ( the culture department of Liverpool City Council (  

We are delighted to invite you to watch Threads, a film bringing together three Arab women artists from Syria, Lebanon and Sudan, weaving a story of migration, songs of the Earth, of disability and the passage of time.

In a journey through storytelling, music, and visual poetry they explore how, while the rich tapestry of our lives may be different, a thread runs through them to bring together a sisterly home that is unbound and timeless.

Inspired by the nomadic Bedouin, one of the many indigenous communities in the Arab world who continue to be marginalised through aggressive, extractive ‘development’ practices, Threads brings together the impact of time, culture and migration in a scripted spoken word, accessible performance, with music and a mixed media installation.

Storytelling is performed by Alia Alzougbi and accompanied by original and adapted music performed by Rihab Azar on the Oud. The focal point of the installation is a sculptural work that brings numerous threads, made up of a vast range of colours, and created by Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings.

Part of Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, this is a digital, accessible performance, available to watch for free.

Select the version you would like to watch below.

Watch Threads with English subtitles

Watch Threads with Audio Description

Threads is commissioned by Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, with support from DaDa, funded by Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council.

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival recognises the need for everyone to work together to tackle the impact and effects of the climate crisis. The disproportionate impact on people and communities living in the Middle East and North Africa means the climate crisis risks having the harshest consequences on those with the least power to affect change. 

We believe it is important that we take ethical and moral responsibility for our impact on the environment. We can do this through our practices and activities. As an arts organisation we report on the work we do to mitigate and monitor our impact through our practices and activities. It is important that we act as an advocate, working in partnership with artists and organisations, sharing best practice and encouraging those we work with to reduce their own impact. 

The objectives of our environmental guidance are;

  • To share information with our partners and artists, identifying and providing training examples to encourage learning and development
  • To hear from different communities and people to continuously explore how diverse voices and experience can be heard 
  • Learn best practice and continuously review our environment policy and work to reduce our impact, examining energy use, transport, waste, audience and artist travel and ethical purchasing
  • To bring environmental decision making to Board level, ensuring its is integrated into our business plan

For artists and organisations

As an arts organisation based in Liverpool with an international reach, LAAF recognises that for artists and partner organisations outside of the UK, transport and travel could have a significant environmental impact. We have to take this into account, and have a criteria based on the impact of a work and its ability to raise the profile of an issue.

With that in mind, our environmental guidance for artists and organisations is;

  • To include environmental impact on any proposal or reporting to be part of LAAF
  • To make best practice part of working practice
  • Where travel is involved, to explore the most sustainable travel method, or to maximise opportunity while in the UK and reduce additional travel impact
  • To examine energy use, audience travel and ethical purchasing when making a proposal 

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF) is inviting artistic proposals for our 2022 festival.

The festival will be held in July, 2022 and it will be twenty years since the first Liverpool Arab Arts Festival was held in the city.

Whether in Liverpool or online, we work with Arab artists who are living and / or working in the UK, in an Arab country or within its communities, or identify as having Arab heritage. 

As a festival, we work with artists across a range of artforms, including: music, performance, theatre, literature, spoken word, visual art and more. You can see examples of previous festival programmes on our website.

Proposals can be in any of these artforms. Outputs can include live or digital performances, events, artworks, exhibitions, workshops, public realm works, talks, panel discussions or young people’s activities. The deadline to apply is 7 January 2022. 

Festival Theme

Next year our theme explores our language, how it sits at the heart of our culture, but also how we use it to connect. How we understand each other, how we come together to engage and cross our cultural boundaries. This is how we create a bridge, connecting language and culture. It is how we discover what we have in common and how we communicate. If language is at the foundation of our culture and identity, how we translate to understand each other provides a valuable meeting point.

By its very nature, translation is not purely rooted in language. It can be how we navigate our mixed identities, how we code-switch, changing how we speak and appear when in different situations.

The way we, and our language, is translated, can be influenced by many different things. In literature, there is a focus on how the translation of a text can impact on how a culture, a heritage or identity is perceived. We know how powerful images can be in presenting how a culture can be understood, language is the same. Translation is a powerful tool, but it can also portray power, a dominance over language which can have colonialist implications.

In 2022, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival explores the meeting points for language, the intersections are the places we want to explore.

What we’re looking for

Our call out is divided into two parts:

  • New Artist Commissions

Each year we support several artists in realising new creative ideas. This new work must be developed beyond the concept stage to feature in the 2022 festival.

It must be a considered proposal that could feasibly be staged within the festival, either as a physical or digital event. It must be engaging and thought-provoking, relevant to the theme of Translations.

If you are interested in submitting, please read our brief and how to apply.


We present work by emerging or established artists who are living and / or working in an Arab country or within its communities, or identify as having Arab heritage.

We welcome proposals in any artform including music, performance, theatre, literature, spoken word, visual art, installation, sculpture or any combination of these. Your work may take place physically or online.

For a new commission this work needs to be high-quality and relevant to our audiences. We connect with arts lovers and those interested in Arab arts and culture based locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

The work can be presented as part of our festival. It can be made in collaboration, either with another artist or community. It can potentially be hosted by a cultural organisation physically in Liverpool. It has to be challenging but needs to be accessible for our audiences.

  • Existing Work

Do you have a piece of existing work that you feel would be ideal for LAAF and the festival theme? Could it be re-staged or re-purposed for the festival? Is it a touring work?

If you are an emerging or established artists who are living and / or working in an Arab country or within its communities, or identify as having Arab heritage, and you have an artwork or performance piece you would like to be considered as part of Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, please complete the form below.


  • The proposal/work must be artist-led. You could partnering with another organisation or working within a community, but an artist must be at the centre of this piece
  • Our theme is not prescriptive, but we would like it to be responded to. As long as you can articulate its influence.
  • If submitting a proposal for a new artist commission, this must be a new, original piece of work that you own the rights to.
  • While we can support travel fees, the budget is limited. A large group of artists with international travel would not be appropriate.
  • All our commissions are subject to funding. This means that while we will support the development of the work and artist time, we cannot fund rehearsals and space hire during its development.

We have compiled advice for artists to consider the environmental impact of their work and commission

Please read our Environmental Advice for Artists

The deadline to apply is 7 January 2022

Thank you to everyone who applied for this year’s festival. We will be in touch in the future. Given the volume of applications, this is likely to take several weeks. 

If you attended an event (either in person or online) during Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, please fill out our short survey.

It will only take a few minutes and it helps us to understand our audiences and shape our festival for the future. It’s also an important part of our applications to funders and our reporting back to them to ensure we can continue to deliver our festival.

Click here to complete Liverpool Arab Arts Festival survey


Illustrated view from a bridge in Cairo. It is summer and there are palm trees in the foreground and pyramids in the background.
© Deena Mohamed

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival presents a new creative anthology 22 which is a rapid response to COP26 by artists and activists from 22 Arab countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

1 – 14 November 2021

Available via

22 is the closing project of Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2021, which launched on 14 July 2021. For the last four months it has invited artists and projects from the UK and internationally that highlight the complexities and disproportionate impacts that the climate crisis is having on the countries and communities in the MENA region. From water shortages to population displacement, changes in weather and failing crops, the impact of the climate crisis is worsened by the continuing hangovers of conflict and colonialism, meaning the issues already existing in the region are exacerbated. 

This creative anthology, coinciding with the conversations being held by world leaders in Glasgow, will serve as  a time capsule of this crucial moment in history. Arab voices are not frequently featured within climate conversations in the West, despite the disproportionate and severe impacts those on the ground are facing. Capturing the hopes and fears of a generation of artists and activists, 22 provides a range of perceptions and preoccupations from those living or with heritage in these specific Arab countries. 

Penny Babakhani is the Creative Producer for 22:

“Launching 22 is bittersweet because we do not know what the outcome of COP26 will be. We are at a crossroads, and the consequences of continued inaction and inadequate measures for the MENA region will be severe. 

In a generation’s time, parts of some Middle Eastern countries may be covered with water. The land in North Africa may not be able to sustain crops or vegetation. The future of the region is in the hands of world leaders at COP26, and while we can’t influence what happens behind closed doors in Glasgow, we will use this opportunity to elevate the voices of artists and activists who are rarely provided with a platform during climate conversations. 

The Arab world doesn’t speak with one voice or opinion, so we’re really pleased that this project captures a range of perspectives. This time capsule reflects a small fragment of everything that could be said right now, but we hope that future generations can look back on it in celebration of everything that we managed to save by having the difficult conversations and rising to the challenge of addressing the climate crisis.”

This autumn half term join LAAF and the Lady Lever Lever Art Gallery to learn about the maps of 12th Century Arab explorer Muhammad Al-Idrisi. Have a go at making your own maps using printmaking and other techniques in this exciting, free workshop with artist Jessica El Mal, as part of the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival cultural education programme.

Family workshop for ages 11+

Address: Village, Lower Rd, Port Sunlight, Bebington, Wirral CH62 5EQ

Book tickets here:

Al-Idrisi was a explorer and map maker born in Morocco in 1100AD who left his home aged 16 to explore the world. The maps he created are some of the earliest conceptions of the earth being round.

In this workshop we will explore how Al-Idrisi made his maps, and have a go at creating some of our own using a range of techniques such as print making.

Jessica El Mal is a writer, artist and curator based between Marrakech, Manchester and London. Her work often explores the concept of borders, ecology and migration.

Fatim Benhamza’s project Positive Pandemics is now available to view online at LAAF’s website.

A series of three digital illustrations that present utopian and dystopian visions of Casablanca’s environmental future, the project aims to raise awareness of the impact of ‘bad’ politics on the climate crisis in the Arab region.

This online project is part of Liverpool Arab Arts Festival 2021 and is available until November.

You can see Fatim’s work here:

Palestinian composer and oud player, Saied Silbak, has created a special playlist for LAAF, ahead of his performance at the festival, when he brings Songs From Palestine to Liverpool Philharmonic’s Music Room

Each month during the festival, LAAF dedicates an hour on Melodic Distraction to the story of one of our artists. In September, Saied took us on a journey through his favourite Arab artists and tracks

Read more about Songs from Palestine and book tickets

Listen to the show on Melodic Distraction

Saied Silbak Playlist

Ziad Rahbani – Shou Hal Ayyam

Marcel Khalifa – Bghaibtek Nizl Il Shiti

Umm Kulthum – Meen Elly Aal

Saied Silbak ft. Nour Darwish – 7ob

Abdel Halim Hafez – Ana Lak Ala Toul

Sheikh Imam – Iza il Shams Ghirait

Saied Silbak & Rola Azar – Iza Elshams (Cover)