Photographer opportunity

Show People of North Staffordshire: Philip Astley Project Photography Brief


The Philip Astley Projects CIC are looking to commission a Photographer to document individuals, families, relevant places and potentially objects as part of our new Historic England funded project: Show People of North Staffordshire.

Our project and the photography will focus on profiling members of the fairground and circus community who are from or have strong links to this area. It’s likely to capture show-people, performers and workers, alongside images of present day current and historic fairs and/or circus sites, winter quarters, and members of the public who will share their memories.

The images will be used within the exhibition with accompanying audio recordings. The full project will include a series of talks and podcasts and will be archived and kept by the Philip Astley Project and shared with the Brampton Museum, Astley Heritage Centre (a project under development as part of the Newcastle Town Deal) and Staffordshire Archive Service.

The work will be supported by Andrew Van Buren the Philip Astley Project Manager, other Philip Astley Project members and others contracted as part of the project.

The project started in September 2022 and the exhibition is planned to run during June to August 2023.


Funding has been awarded to a heritage project in Newcastle-Under-Lyme as part of Historic England’s Everyday Heritage Grants: Celebrating Working Class History. ‘Show People of North Staffordshire’ invites fairground and circus families and workers to tell their own stories.

The project will record histories, traditions; perhaps tales of economic pressures old and new as well as recording employment opportunities; and the magic, anticipation and joy provided by fairs and circuses to the public. Local people will be invited to share their fairground memories through conversations, photos and things kept over the years which will then be weaved into the exhibition and documentation about the project.

About The Philip Astley Project

The Philip Astley Project was formed in 2015, becoming a CIC in 2018. The Philip Astley Project CIC was formed to support the ongoing legacy and build upon the project steering groups work funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund from 2016-2018. It builds upon the earlier work of Andrew Van Buren and the Van Buren family whose research and events celebrate the military hero, creator of the modern circus and original Ringmaster. Newcastle-under-Lyme born Philip Astley, was the founder of modern circus, and his global legacy lives on, with our aim being to further that in his birthplace, with people and partners.

The Philip Astley Project CIC working committee includes Brampton Museum, Friends of the Brampton Museum, Keele University, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Business Improvement District, Newcastle-under-Lyme College, New Vic Theatre through Appetite, Staffordshire Film Archive, Staffordshire Libraries and Information Service, Staffordshire University, The Van Buren Organisation, and individuals: Wenslie Naylon and Jim Worgan.

Photography Brief

  • To capture photographs of the interviewed show-people, performers or workers as part of the project
  • To liaise with the Project Manager and co-ordinate as to the timing of taking the photography, likely to be within the day
  • To quality check and edit the portraits
  • To support with development of and ensure all consent forms/model releases and all text for captions, names, job roles, business names etc, are collated for documentation
  • To ensure all post-production is complete, all digital files are exhibition ready and shared with the project
  • To work with The Philip Astley Project steering group members including Andrew Van Buren and Gemma Thomas to advise on the curation of the exhibition
  • To feed into the evaluation process of The Philip Astley Project CIC around process and support
  • To ensure timescales are kept as outlined in the brief



This has been worked out approximately 8 – 10 days.

We have an additional budget of £250 for expenses for the project. This excludes exhibition costs relating to the commission.


December – January 2023: Expression of Interest submissions and decision-making

January 2023 – April 2023: Contracting and delivery

April – May 2023: All exhibition ready files and text content collated, edited and Exhibition designed.

Start of June 2023: Exhibition opens.

End of August 2023: Exhibition closes.

September 2023: Project Ends and final evaluation submitted.

Expression of Interest

To make the process as simple as possible, we are looking for either:

  • A two page document
  • Or, a video or preferred format submission

To answer the following:

  • Who are you and what’s your photography experience that relates to this brief?
  • Why are you interested in the project?
  • What approach you’d take.

Deadline for Expression of Interest: 11 January 2023, midday

Review and decision-making on the expression of interest will be taken by Andrew Van Buren, Gemma Thomas and Philip Astley Project Steering Group members. We may ask people to come to a paid conversation about the project and their work.


Lead contact (Philip Astley Project): Andrew Van Buren //

Others:  Gemma Thomas //

Everyday Heritage Grants: Celebrating Working Class Histories is one of many ongoing cultural projects that Historic England is delivering in order to shine a light on the diversity of the nation’s heritage.

Updates can be found at: The Philip Astley Project Facebook Page & on Twitter also on the Philip Astley Project website: 

@HistoricEngland #EverydayHeritage

Fred Van Buren and Connie Greta on Tommy Allen Parading show. Picture Van Buren Collection.   Historic England Logo 

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