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Syllabus VI: Open Call

Syllabus V artists, group photograph at Wysing Arts Centre (2019)

Syllabus VI: Open Call

Wysing Arts Centre, Eastside Projects, Iniva, Spike Island and Studio Voltaire invite applications from artists for Syllabus VI; a collaboratively produced alternative learning programme in its sixth year that will support ten artists across ten months.  Syllabus offers time to come together with artists from across the UK to discuss ideas, work, life and approaches to practice.

Starting in September 2020, the Syllabus VI curriculum will be built around a series of six intensive gatherings, which the ten selected artists will collaboratively develop with curators and artists who work with the partner organisations, and two external Artistic Advisors – artist Jade Montserrat and curator Amanprit Sandhu.

Information for applicants

  • Benefits

    • The opportunity to rethink individual practices through an intensive programme of gatherings, hosted by the partner organisations.
    • Working together to collaboratively shape and develop a reflexive, collective learning experience.
    • Critical conversations about ideas and work in progress with a supportive, national network of artists, curators and organisations.
    • Becoming part of a new network of artist peers
    • Introductions to, and connections with, arts organisations, communities in cities across the UK and access to new networks, expertise and resources.
    • Two 1-2-1 meetings with the Artistic Advisors over the course of the year
    • One 1-2-1 meeting with a partner organisation.

    Unlike in previous years, selected artists will not be asked to contribute financially to the Syllabus. As a result, we anticipate the gatherings will include more content generated by the cohort itself, and so are looking for participants who want to proactively bring forward ideas to the programme and contribute to its design and delivery across the ten months.

  • Who can apply?

    Syllabus VI aims to reach artists with a range of practices and artistic approaches and bring together individuals from across the UK who have not yet had access to similar programmes. We are particularly keen to support people who are currently underrepresented in the visual arts including artists with Black, Asian or minority ethnic heritage, those who have faced socio-economic barriers, artists who identify as LGBTQ+, and those with disabilities. We ask applicants to make this clear when applying, if applicable.

  • Who is involved?

    Key individuals and organisations who will collaborate with the Syllabus VI artists, and who will be involved across the ten months, are Ruth Claxton, Gavin Wade, Eastside Projects; Sepake Angiama, Tavian Hunter, and Simina Neagu, Iniva; Laura Harford and Nicola Wright, Studio Voltaire; Carmen Juliá and Rosa Tyhurst, Spike Island; John Eng Kiet Bloomfield, Wysing Arts Centre. For Syllabus VI, artist Jade Montserrat and curator Amanprit Sandhu have been appointed as Artistic Advisors.

    Previous iterations of Syllabus have involved contributions from a wide range of artists, writers and curators and applicants to Syllabus VI will have the opportunity to access similar networks. Contributing practitioners have included Larry Achiampong, Ruth Beale, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Celine Condorelli, Nav Haq, Nadia Hebson, Anthea Hamilton, Andy Holden, Evan Ifekoya, Shama Khanna, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Mark Leckey, Richard Long, Modern Clay, Sofia Niazi, Katrina Palmer, Holly Pester, Rory Pilgrim, Morgan Quaintance, Nicola Singh, Tai Shani, Rosalie Schweiker, Cally Spooner, Linda Stupart, Richard Wentworth, Jonathan P. Watts, Keith Wilson, DM Withers, Rehana Zaman and Andrea Luka Zimmermann. We have received additional input and support from John Akomfrah, Benedict Drew, Kathy Noble, Eddie Peake, Marinella Senatore, Yinka Shonibare and Mike Sperlinger and have arranged visits to Documenta Athens and Glasgow International. Artists Barby Asante, Sonya Dyer, Andy Holden, Milly Thompson, Jesse Darling, Harold Offeh and curators Helen Nisbet, Louise Shelley and George Vasey have led the Syllabus as Artistic Advisors in previous years, engaging with and supporting participating artists over the course of the programme.

  • The programme structure

    The programme will be structured around a series of gatherings which all participating artists will be required to attend. During the first retreat at Wysing, Syllabus artists, individuals connected to the partner organisations and the Artistic Advisors will collaborate to identify broad themes. These will form the starting point for an evolving, responsive curriculum that will support individual and collective artistic development and provide access to networks and knowledge across the next ten months. Subsequent weekend gatherings will be hosted at partner venues in December, February, April and June, usually running from Friday to Sunday. The Syllabus will conclude with a final gathering at Wysing in July.

    Syllabus VI will foreground the skills, talents and experiences of the cohort itself as a key resource. We are looking for artists who are able to take an active role in leading and contributing to elements of the curriculum, from sharing skills and experiences to organising workshops and leading reading groups for the wider group.

    During periods between the gatherings, materials will be made available through a shared online resource, and the Artistic Advisors will support and advise participating artists through a series of planning sessions and 1-2-1 conversations.

  • Programme timetable

    24–27 Sep 2020 – Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire
    A four-day retreat, with onsite shared accommodation and food provided, that will introduce everyone who will be involved in Syllabus VI to one another. Led by the Syllabus Artistic Advisors this gathering will enable selected artists, curators and programmers from the partner organisations, to come together, share practice and begin collaboratively planning the curriculum for Syllabus VI.

    3–5 December Iniva, London

    19–21 February Spike Island, Bristol

    16–18 April Eastside Projects, Birmingham

    12–13 June Studio Voltaire, London

    9–11 July Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire

  • Costs

    Access to the Syllabus VI programme is free.

    Artists will need to fund their own travel and accommodation, but sessions are planned well in advance to give time for participants to book this at a low cost.

    The overall cost to deliver Syllabus IV is £45,000 per year. The direct costs of delivering is £18,000, which has been raised from Arts Council England. The remaining £27,000 is the contribution in-kind from the partner organisations which enables the programme to happen.

    The partners are happy to write letters of support for participants who wish to make applications for professional development or travel grants.

    Here are links to some funders who have supported previous participants:

  • Application process

    • Applicants must have been out of formal education for at least 4 years. We are also interested in hearing from artists who have not progressed through formal art training routes.
    • We aim to establish a cohort that represents a diversity of cultural perspectives and artistic practices and welcome applications from a wide geographic spread across the UK.
    • We are looking for applicants who want to both develop their own work and actively contribute to the collaborative development of the curriculum for Syllabus VI.
    • Applicants are expected to make a significant contribution to shaping the programme and must commit to attending all gatherings and retreats.
    • Syllabus VI is open to artists based in the UK
    • Applications may be made via video or audio, to support those with dyslexia, rather than written form.
  • Artistic Advisors for Syllabus VI

    Jade Montserrat is the recipient of the Stuart Hall Foundation Scholarship which supports her PhD (via MPhil) at IBAR, UCLan, (Race and Representation in Northern Britain in the context of the Black Atlantic: A Creative Practice Project) and the development of her work from her black diasporic perspective in the North of England. She was also awarded one of two Jerwood Student Drawing Prizes in 2017 for No Need for Clothing, a documentary photograph of a drawing installation at Cooper Gallery DJCAD by Jacquetta Clark. Jade’s Rainbow Tribe project—a combination of historical and contemporary manifestations of Black Culture from the perspective of the Black Diaspora is central to the ways she is producing a body of work, including No Need For Clothing and its iterations, as well as her performance work Revue. Jade was commissioned to present Revue as a 24 hour live performance at SPILL Festival of Performance, October 2018, a solo exhibition at The Bluecoat, Liverpool, (Nov – 10 Mar 2019) which toured to Humber Street Gallery ( July-Sept 2019) and was commissioned by Art on the Underground to create the 2018 Winter Night Tube cover.


    Amanprit Sandhu is a curator, writer and researcher based in London

    She is currently a visiting lecturer on the Fine Art BA at Chelsea College of Arts, and a visiting tutor on the Curating Contemporary Art MA at the Royal College of Art. Between 2018-19 she was a a-n artist mentor.

    In a freelance capacity her focus is on commissioning, performance-based practices and collaborative approaches to working. She is the co-founder of the curatorial collective DAM Projects, who support underexposed and unorthodox artists, art scenes, discourses, and socio-political debates.

    Previous roles include Interim Curator at Wysing Arts Centre, Public Programme and Residencies Curator at Camden Arts Centre, Projects Curator at Art on the Underground, Performance Programme Curator for Art 13/14 London art fairs, Project Manager for the 2014 Folkestone Triennial and 2012 Frieze Foundation projects, and Assistant Curator at the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art.

  • Partners for Syllabus VI

    Wysing Arts Centre is a thriving cultural campus of ten buildings across an 11 acre rural site in south Cambridgeshire which hosts experimental residencies for UK and international artists, and delivers a critically acclaimed public programme of gallery exhibitions and events including conferences, symposia, workshops and music events.

    Eastside Projects makes art public. We aim to SURVIVE! SUPPORT! ATTRACT ATTENTION! CENTRE THE ARTIST! MAKE CIVIC SPACE! We are an artist run multiverse, commissioning, producing and presenting experimental art practices, demonstrating ways in which art may be useful as part of society, providing vital infrastructure, supporting best practice and working to expand the role of the artist run space. We believe in working collaboratively towards change and do so to support the cultural growth of Birmingham.

    Founded in 1994 in London, Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) is an evolving, radical visual arts organisation dedicated to developing an artistic programme that reflects on the social and political impact of globalisation. With the Stuart Hall Library acting as a critical and creative hub for our work, we collaborate with artists, curators, researchers and cultural producers to challenge conventional notions of diversity and difference. We engage a wide audience, particularly young people, in discourse and debate on issues surrounding the politics of race, class and gender.

    Founded in 1976, Spike Island is a dynamic arts centre that supports, produces and presents contemporary art and culture in Bristol. We engage audiences in our work through an artistic programme of museum-scale exhibitions and interdisciplinary events; and directly support local and international artists through major new commissions, subsidised studios and critically-engaged talent development opportunities that widen access to our programme and facilities. We also offer bespoke exhibition services and are home to a café, workspaces for designers, artist-led organisations and creative businesses, and UWE Bristol’s Fine Arts programme.

    For over 25 years, Studio Voltaire’s pioneering public programmes of exhibitions, participation projects, live events and off–site commissions have gained an international reputation. Studio Voltaire has an outstanding track record of supporting artists at a pivotal stage in their careers, championing emerging and under represented artists, placing a great emphasis on risk–taking and experimentation. Many commissions are an artist’s first solo exhibition in London.

Ready to apply?

  • How to apply

    Your application must include:

    • A statement. Tell us why you would like to participate in Syllabus VI (max 500 words);
    • Initial ideas for contributions to the programme. This could include ideas for workshops, skill shares, reading groups, or other collective activities as well as methods of collaboration, themes to explore as a group or external contributors to invite. Please describe what this could bring to Syllabus VI and why it is important to you and your work (max 500 words);
    • Information on your work and interests. This could include an artist statement, a text written by another person or some thoughts on what you would like to do next. (max 500 words)
    • A current CV;
    • Examples of your work. You can upload a portfolio or individual images or can provide links to a website or to individual works (vimeo/youtube/soundcloud).
    • Information relating to your personal circumstances, if you feel these have acted as a barrier to you benefiting from similar opportunities or practising as an artist in the past. This might include information on your financial circumstances, your cultural background, gender or sexuality, or details of any access needs. We believe that a diverse cohort of artists makes a strong cohort and will use this information to ensure that a diverse range of artists are interviewed for this opportunity. We also want to ensure that we can support all of the artists on the programme.
    • Applications must be made online at Submittable here.
  • Deadline to apply

    The deadline for applications is 12 midnight Monday 13 April 2020.

    Interviews for Syllabus VI will take place on 11, 12 and 14 May 2020.

  • Need more information?

    Join an Open Lunch Information Session at Eastside Projects, Birmingham: 1–2pm, 26 March 2020.

    Or book a telephone consultation with Spike Island here.

    Or download the frequently asked questions (FAQ) pdf.

Spike Island are offering telephone consultations for artists interested in applying for Syllabus VI.

Book a call