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Open Call: Research and Development Bursaries

Open Call: Research and Development Bursaries

Bea Kayani in her studio at Spike Island (2021). Photograph by Rebecca Goldman



The deadline to apply for this opportunity has now passed

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Over the next three years, the West of England Visual Arts Alliance (WEVAA) aims to transform Bristol and the West of England into a place where the visual arts can thrive, providing critical opportunities and support to enable diverse local artists, curators and young people to develop their careers and achieve their potential. 

WEVAA is invested in supporting exceptional visual arts projects to grow, across the West of England region. All partners are committed to inclusivity and developing more equitable practices. We consider diversity a strength and are keen to ensure more representation of the different backgrounds and experiences that make up our communities.  

Research and Development Bursaries

We will award 12–17 Research and Development Bursaries to artists over the next three years, ranging from £500–£1,000 each. The bursaries are available to develop ideas in your art practice and can be used for research, travel, materials and any other costs related to the development of your work. The panel are looking for you to clearly evidence how these costs are critical to the development of new work and opportunities.

We particularly welcome applications from people who are currently underrepresented in the UK arts sector, including those who identify as D/deaf, disabled,  neurodivergent, LGBTQIA+, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds or living or working in areas of socio-economic deprivation, and those who experience racism.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted as a single PDF document (under 10MB) via the form below. This PDF should include:

  • Tell us why a Bursary is critical for you to develop new work and opportunities (up to 750 words). We are happy to accept video and audio versions. 750 words is approximately 6-7 minutes speaking time. Private YouTube links can be used to submit these.
  • Include a CV of the primary applicants and also websites links and supporting documentation of 4 pages max. This can also include a brief biography.
  • Include your postcode and geographic location – we only accept postcodes in the areas of Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset, and North Somerset.
  • Your access document (if applicable)

You will be asked to complete an anonymous equal opportunities form following submission of your application (used for monitoring purposes only)

DEADLINE TO APPLY: Tuesday 11 January 2022 at 23:59 GMT

Download a Word version of this open call brief or listen to an audio version.

We realise that text-based applications do not suit everyone, so if you would like to apply in a different way, for example via video or audio, or require this information in a different format, please get in touch with us by writing to Graham Johnson, Online Programme Producer, Visual Arts South West, at or by calling Spike Island Reception at 0117 929 2266. We want to remove as many barriers to applying as we can.

All applicants will receive an automated email to confirm that their application has been received successfully.

Please submit your application via the form at the bottom of this page.

Panel Selection Process

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of four people from the West of England Visual Arts Alliance, including representatives from Visual Arts South West, Spike Island, the Brunswick Club. 

Selection will be made based on the need of the practitioners and how they articulate how the Bursary will develop their work and opportunities. 

Please note that due to limited capacity, we are only able to respond directly to candidates who are invited to interview. If you have not heard from us by 14 January 2022 then you should assume that you have not been successful on this occasion.

FAQs for applicants

  • Is there any support available to help with submitting an application?

    We are happy to receive applications in alternative formats (video, audio file). We may also be able to find other ways to make the application process more accessible to you.

    If you require access support with your application please contact

  • Will my access costs be covered?

    Any access costs you incur as an artist or practitioner should be covered by Access to Work* if you have self-employed artist status or work as part of an organisation or company. If you do not draw an income from your work, we will work with you to meet your access costs if you are selected – please include these figures in addition to your production budget. 

    *Access to Work is a government scheme that is designed to meet the additional costs of employing a disabled person where they are directly a result of that person’s impairments. For more information go to:

  • How do I let you know what my access needs are?

    We welcome all artists and practitioners we work with to share their access documents with us. This can assist us with accurately forecasting timescales for the production and delivery of projects, as well as with budgeting accurately. We recommend using a template from if you would like to prepare and submit your own access document along with your application.


About Spike Island

Spike Island supports, produces and presents contemporary art across an 80,000 square foot former industrial building near Bristol harbourside. Our diverse artistic programme includes free major exhibitions, events and engagement activities taking place on-site and online. The programme champions outstanding work by emerging and underrepresented local, national and international artists, and enhances access to contemporary art and culture for audiences from all backgrounds.

Spike Island directly supports artists through ambitious new commissions, subsidised studios and critically-engaged artist development opportunities that widen access to our programme and facilities. Our Exhibition Services business supports the bespoke production and installation of artists’ film and video throughout the UK and internationally. Spike Island is home to a dynamic community of hundreds of artists and creative businesses, working in flexible, affordable workspaces, alongside UWE Bristol’s Fine Art programmes and café bar Emmeline.

About Visual Arts South West

Visual Arts South West (VASW) is a sector support organisation. Its mission is to advocate for visual arts and enable the sector to thrive in South West England. Its core aims are to: raise the visibility of the South West’s visual arts sector, both in the region and nationally; advocate for diverse perspectives in our region; address significant structural and systemic issues facing the sector; develop a more resilient visual arts sector. VASW is part of the national Contemporary Visual Art Network and is based at Spike Island, Bristol.

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