Using Birmingham’s forgotten past to inspire our future
Unlocking the world’s first great people’s Shakespeare Library for all
Get Involved

Get Involved

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project £32,700 of development funding to help progress plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant.

The full four-year project aims to unlock the first great peoples’ Shakespeare library in the world for people and communities across Birmingham today.

Opened in 1868, the Birmingham Shakespeare Library was inspired by the radical thinker and activist George Dawson. Alongside universal education and democracy for all, Dawson passionately argued that it was time for all forms of culture, including Shakespeare, to be available to everyone. He wanted to make everything accessible to everybody.

Today, Birmingham’s Shakespeare Library contains more than 100,000 items related to Shakespeare, from a First Folio to music scores and artworks by Picasso. Materials come in 93 different languages, as well as Braille. You can find out more about the collection here.

If full funding is received, the project will invite members of the public, community groups, schools and other local organisations to access, recover and interpret this inspiring heritage for our city now.

A comprehensive programme of events, workshops and exhibitions will take place from May 2020 until December 2022.

All activity will encourage creative responses to:

  • Birmingham’s historic Shakespeare collection
  • The ‘Everything to Everybody’ ethos of its founder, George Dawson
  • Birmingham communities now

How can you engage at this stage?

During this exciting Development Phase, we want to hear from potential project partners interested in collaborating with us. Whether you are a member of the public, work with a community group or in a school, we want to hear about your ideas for engaging with and contributing to the project.

Please take a look at the options for collaborating with us below. You can share your proposals by filling in an Expression of Interest form and emailing it back to us at:

Family Days at the Library of Birmingham

We will run Family Days at the Library of Birmingham on 7 Saturdays during the project. We are looking for project partners to design and run 4 of these, bringing ‘Everything to Everybody’ to life for all the family. Inspired by the Shakespeare collection and George Dawson, fill the Library with family-friendly fun and creative activities. For example, you could deliver a ‘Shakespeare goes Bollywood’ day.

Click here to find out more

Fill in an Expression of Interest form.

First Folio Tour at venues across Birmingham

Shakespeare’s First Folio is the world’s most influential and significant secular book. Published in 1623, it is the first time that Shakespeare’s plays were published as a collection, and is still used as the definitive version of the plays today. We are looking for 15 different venues to host this valuable book for a day’s event in Birmingham. For example, you could display the First Folio in your school, community space or religious setting.

Click here to find out more

Fill in an Expression of Interest form.

Community Curated Exhibitions at the Library of Birmingham

Help us re-write Shakespeare. We are looking for creative and imaginative partners to curate 5 innovative exhibitions in the Shakespeare Memorial Room in the Library of Birmingham. With your community group, explore Birmingham’s remarkable and historic Shakespeare Collection and devise an exhibition that connects with and speaks to Birmingham today.

Click here to find out more

Fill in an Expression of Interest form.

Neighbourhood Productions at venues across Birmingham

After seeing our Shakespeare collection at the Library of Birmingham, take the essence of Shakespeare into the city. Neighbourhood Productions will be inspired by Birmingham’s historic Shakespeare library and shaped by your organisation’s creativity and unique knowledge of local audiences. Bring Shakespeare and Birmingham’s history to life by pushing boundaries through performance, community engagement projects, exhibitions and themed events.

Click here to find out more

Fill in an Expression of Interest form.

Everything to Everybody Festival at the Library of Birmingham and venues across Birmingham

The project will culminate in a major exhibition and festival focused on ‘Bringing Shakespeare back to Life for Birmingham’. In partnership with the Birmingham Commonwealth Association, the Everything to Everybody Festival will complement Birmingham’s 2022 Commonwealth Games. We will be looking for Project Partners to produce events, exhibitions and performances as part of the Festival. From schools to professional organisations, this is your chance to share new work which you have created in response to our project.

Click here to find out more

Fill in an Expression of Interest form.

Schools and Education Programme at the Library of Birmingham and venues across Birmingham

Let us help you to bring Shakespeare to life for your learners. Come and see the Shakespeare Memorial Room and gain a unique insight into our Shakespeare collection at the Library of Birmingham. Take part in a Shakespeare workshop delivered by experts. Curate an exhibition at the Library of Birmingham. Develop a Shakespeare-themed event or visual arts activity back at your school. Your students will be able to learn about Birmingham’s history and Shakespeare, and create new work in response.

Click here to find out more

Fill in a Consultation form.


We are seeking to build a team of volunteers able to dedicate their time on a one-off and regular basis from May 2020 onwards. We will be looking for volunteers aged 18 years and above, of all abilities and backgrounds.

Roles will include archive research, conservation, digitisation, social media, public engagement, and education.

Volunteers will be fully trained in practical aspects of the work required and the history of the Collection. Volunteering will take place at the Library of Birmingham, as well as venues across the city.

If you are interested in volunteering, please fill in a registration form and email it back to us at:

Complete a Volunteer Registration form