Creative Volunteering

Tate Liverpool


Tate Liverpool is one of the four Tate galleries in the United Kingdom. Tate Liverpool is the home in the North for the national collection of international modern art, with the mission to increase the public’s enjoyment and understanding of British, international, modern, and contemporary art.

Since Tate Liverpool opened in 1988 they have not run a volunteer programme, prioritising paid employment in light of the socio-economic context of the city. With volunteering increasingly recognised to offer invaluable experiences and meaningful connections, Tate Liverpool is keen to establish a volunteer programme within the next two years. 

This presents a challenge and equally an opportunity for the research team to shape an innovative, creative and accessible programme that broadens access to the gallery and brings new insights into and perspectives of Tate Liverpool. 

Research team 
  • Dmitrijs Andrejevs, PhD researcher in Russian and East European Studies, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester
  • Yuhong Lei, PhD researcher in Educational Research, School of Arts and Social Sciences, Lancaster University
  • Emma Stanbridge, PhD researcher in English Literature, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Keele University

This research project provided the evidence base to shape the structure and implementation of an innovative volunteer programme at Tate Liverpool. Evaluating best practice across the UK arts and culture sector, the research team offered bespoke recommendations for a volunteer programme on the basis of a mixed methods approach, which included:

  • A review of relevant academic as well as grey literature on best practices;
  • An online audit of over 70 arts and culture organisations and their volunteer programmes;
  • A set of follow-up case studies to highlight diversity of volunteering offer (roles);
  • Online staff interviews to generate insights on volunteer engagement channels.

The insights and recommendations delivered by this research will support Tate Liverpool as they adopt a creative approach in curating a new and sustainable volunteer scheme, through which volunteers can share their experience, as well as gain new ones. The perspectives of a new and diverse group of volunteers will, in turn, enable Tate Liverpool to connect with a wide range of people and local communities, and establish its site as a welcoming hub to the surrounding community. Along with the existing channels of engagement at Tate Liverpool, a volunteer scheme will offer further opportunities to build connections with local communities and animating the gallery space with a greater range of experiences and opportunities.


We want to start working with volunteers at Tate Liverpool and this research will be invaluable in informing how we organise our programme. It gives a very good overview of practice across our sector, something we would struggle to pull together with our own resources. The concept of digital volunteers was completely new to me and has expanded my thinking about what we could do. We had 3 great researchers who were interested in our project and were very professional in the approach and interactions. Working life has been stressful during the pandemic but this programme has been a very positive highlight – and future facing!

Jemima Pyne
Tate Liverpool Head Of Audiences

Being involved in this project gave us a chance to manage a consultancy project. As a result, we gained valuable insights into working with a business partner and learning about the challenges of the industry from their perspective. Working remotely was an additional challenge but this has resultanty improved our flexibility and resilience as a team.

Yuhong Lei
Lancaster University

This project was founded by the Economic and Social Research Council, in collaboration with the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership and the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at the University of Manchester, as part of the Collaboration Labs programme.

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