FVU's Curatorial Practice Award is an annual opportunity intended to enable people from low-income backgrounds to pursue curatorial careers in the arts. Applications for 2018 are now closed. To be notified when we reopen for applications in future years, please sign up to our e-bulletin here. We also announce all of our open calls via social media.
The recipient of the 2018 Curatorial Practice Award is Cynthia Silveira, who was selected from 37 applications by an expert panel. Taking the form of moving-image presentations, Cynthia's project will explore the video works of contemporary black artists who are experimenting with video as a way of expressing their Black British identity and the intersections of art and black youth culture. Cynthia will join FVU as a guest curator for a period of twelve months, working with the support of the team to realise her proposal. https://cynveira.com/
We were left exhilarated by the response to the inaugural year of this award. The calibre of the applications we received reinforced the urgent need for such schemes, and exposed the volume of great ideas that are still to be realised by people facing challenges to pursuing their career in the arts.
About the award - What is the opportunity?
- £5,000 fee to develop and deliver a curatorial project of your choosing in the field of artists’ moving image
- Match-funding for your project, up to £15,000
- Year-long support and learning from the FVU team
- Regular meetings with an external mentor of your choosing
- Desk space at FVU for a year
This is an open call for people looking to develop their practical curatorial skills via a year-long placement at Film and Video Umbrella. During this period you will work to develop and realise a curatorial project of your choosing in the field of artists’ moving image. This project could take a number of different forms, such as an exhibition, education programme, commission, event, or screening programme.
We will support you to embrace challenges and to take and manage risks. You will be supported to develop, fundraise and realise your project by the FVU team, who will offer expertise and contacts in the specialist field of artists’ moving image, including advice and assistance with partnership brokering, artist management, commissioning, film production, AV presentation, communications and audience engagement.
FVU will double funds that you secure for the project, up to a maximum of £15K (so for a total budget of £30K). You will be provided with a £5,000 fee, and will be expected to be based in the FVU office approximately one day per week over the course of a year, though you are free to use the desk space as much as you want. The opportunity aims to provide you with real-world, practical experience of how to deliver a significant project that will not only help build professional confidence for the future but show evidence of delivery to prospective employers. We will also ask you to have a role in helping us review the scheme for a new participant to undertake in the following year. We will arrange for you to have regular meetings throughout the year with an external mentor of your choosing. Your mentor can both advise you on your project, as well as on developing your career beyond the opportunity with FVU.
Who is eligible?
- This opportunity is intended for people from low-income backgrounds. More information on what we ask you to provide to support your application is included in the ‘How to apply’ section below.
- There is no age limit.
- You can be of any nationality, but you must have the legal right to live and work in the UK for the duration of the year-long placement.
- We will not accept applications from people who are currently undertaking a full-time educational course. We will accept applications from part-time students.
- You do not need to have studied the arts to apply but you must be able to demonstrate a knowledge of and a passion for the visual arts, and have a strong project idea or area that you would like to research.
- We are an organisation that specialises in making and presenting artists’ moving-image works, so to make the most of FVU’s expertise, your proposal needs to be within this field.
Why has this opportunity been developed?
It has been consistently noted that the artists and workforce within the visual arts is wildly unrepresentative of the wider demographic makeup of the United Kingdom, and that this situation needs to change if arts organisations are to adequately reflect and engage the diversity of artists and audiences that is such a strong distinguishing feature of contemporary Britain.
Before this can happen, there needs to be a proper acknowledgement of the challenges and impediments that prevent many people pursuing a career in the arts. High among these determining factors are economic considerations. While educational opportunities (in the form of curating courses or other professional degrees) are more widely available than ever, they are also more expensive than ever. For many people from low-income backgrounds, or experiencing other forms of economic disadvantage, the cost of obtaining specialist qualifications (and the subsequent need to take unpaid or extremely low-paid work to gain valuable professional experience) is a formidable, often insurmountable obstacle that only reinforces a perception that the arts are somehow ‘not for them’.
Economic disadvantage intersects with and exacerbates the barriers experienced by people from all backgrounds and demographics. Money does not discriminate. A lack of it universally strips people of opportunity, but it cannot quell talent or potential. The popular language of meritocracy would have us believe that whatever situation we were born into, if we simply work hard and apply ourselves, then everyone has the opportunity to succeed in whatever career they might choose. This superficial notion of ‘equality’ seeks to mask the vast array of different and additional educational opportunities and experiences that money can buy or allow privileged access to, while simultaneously and detrimentally misrepresenting those born into economically poorer circumstances as somehow lacking in motivation and/or skill.
At a time when the lack of diversity among decision-makers at arts organisations has made the headlines, but when actual social mobility has diminished, it feels more important than ever to create opportunities for new and different voices that might otherwise be excluded or unrepresented.
FVU believes that for the arts sector to flourish it needs to be made up of people with the widest range of different talents and experiences and reach beyond the narrow (or narrowing) grouping of people who have the opportunity to access careers in the arts. This will deter creative stagnation, create better, more varied and more innovative work, and work that speaks to wider audiences.
Curatorial Practice is FVU’s initiative to welcome and foster new voices into the art world, and give them the opportunity to flourish. This opportunity is an attempt to level the playing field to allow potential to be realised. It is a step towards having an arts industry filled with the highest skilled that the UK has to offer, rather than only those whose backgrounds have afforded them to take unpaid work in order to gain the experience required in order to progress into an artistic career.
Curators are bellwethers for the expression of creative talent. By offering opportunities to people from low-income backgrounds who are in the early stages of developing their curatorial careers, we will widen the pool of experienced curatorial practitioners, facilitating new perspectives, and stimulating a broader range of artists to showcase and draw from.
How to apply:
Applications for 2018 are now closed. To be notified when we reopen for applications in future years, please sign up to our e-bulletin here. We also announce all of our open calls via social media.
In 2018, applicants were asked to submit the following:
1. Cover Letter with Project Proposal (no more than two sides of A4)
Included in your Cover Letter should be your Project Proposal. This must detail the type of project that you would want to undertake in your time with us. We will not hold you to the exact detail of what you propose, but we ask you to include as much information as possible. Things your proposal could consider are:
- Details of the artist or artists you would like to work with or present
- Potential host/presentation locations or venues
- An outline of the budget required to deliver the project
- Proposals for where you might seek funding
We encourage big ambition, but proposals do need to be realistic and realisable, (though we will be able to advise on how big ideas might be scaled back to be achieved).
Your Cover Letter should also tell us:
- Why you are applying for the opportunity
- How you will benefit from the opportunity
- What relevant experiences you have that will help you deliver the proposed project.
This is a practical and hands-on opportunity to develop and realise a curatorial project, so you need to be able to demonstrate that you already have the capacity to think like a curator and have the practical capabilities and proactive attitude that must accompany all creative curatorial minds to see a project through to successful fruition. This may or may not mean that you already have some curatorial training or experience.
2. CV (no more than two sides of A4)
This should include details of:
- Your education and qualifications from secondary school onwards, including grades achieved
- Your employment history
- Any curatorial projects previously worked on or delivered
- Any other relevant experience
You do not necessarily need to have undertaken a formal education within or worked in the arts before, but we would like to know what your education and work experiences have been, and what aspects of this experience you see as relevant and useful for developing a career in the visual arts moving forward.
3. Documentation that you are from a low-income background.
You can either supply us with:
A short personal statement describing a little about what makes you eligible from your circumstances / background.
Some kind of formal evidence, such as documentation that you were eligible for free school meals as a child, or that you live or lived in local authority housing for a period of time. If you attended university to undertake a Bachelors degree you could use scans of your Student Finance Breakdown letters indicating that you received a full maintenance grant. We are open to suggestions for other forms of documentation of this type.
We want to make this element of eligibility as non-arduous as possible.
Please feel free to call us to discuss if you are unsure if you would be eligible, and how to demonstrate this.
4. Contact details for two referees.
These would most often be past or current tutors or employers. We will not contact your referees unless you are offered an interview, and we will inform you before we contact them so that you have an opportunity to ask them if they are willing to provide you with a reference.
5. Completed Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form and Feedback Survey
With the exception of your Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form and Feedback Survey (which will be processed separately and anonymously), the personal data you give us in submitting your application will be used to process your application for the Curatorial Practice Award 2018, by Film and Video Umbrella and will be shared with external members of the selection panel – Helen Nisbet and Paul Goodwin. We will only contact you in connection to this application. Your personal data will be kept by Film and Video Umbrella for up to 1 year and will only be used by each organisation for research, evaluation, reporting and marketing analysis for artist opportunities. It will not be passed on to anyone else. If you want to be removed from our database you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. You have the right to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office should you wish to complain about how your information has been handled.
Do I need to have achieved good grades to have a chance of success with my application?
No. We understand that not everyone does well in school or university, for a wide array of reasons. This does not mean that you do not have the skills to be a curator. The ideas outlined in your cover letter with project proposal will therefore be more significant than your CV in deciding whether or not to offer you the opportunity.
Will you accept my application if I have already completed an MA?
Yes. We will consider applications from people with a range of educational qualifications and experiences.
Is there a fee for applying?
Will you expect applications to accompany FVU’s programme or use the FVU archive?
No. Your proposal does not need to relate to FVU’s programme, either past or present, though it can if you so choose. However, in order to benefit from FVU’s expertise and make the opportunity worthwhile for you, your proposal does need to focus on artists’ moving image.
Who is in the team at FVU who I would be working with to develop my project?
The FVU team are:
Steven Bode, Director, with 30 years of experience as a curator and writer, and broker of significant partnerships to make major artistic projects happen.
Susanna Chisholm, Programme Development Director, works on developing the programme, as well as working closely on and overseeing all of the productions that FVU undertakes.
Paul Flynn, Head of Development Partnerships and Patrons, works exclusively on fundraising for the organisation.
Mike Jones, Technical Manager, guides all of our audiovisual presentations to ensure that every exhibition that FVU undertakes has the highest standards, whatever the capacity of the venue or location that we are exhibiting in. He is also a project manager and oversees FVU’s touring exhibitions.
Anna Billington, Communications Manager, undertakes an extremely wide range of activities including writing and editing interpretation materials for exhibitions, producing online videos and other content to educate and promote our work, gathering and interpreting audience feedback, and authoring and delivering Audience Development Plans.
Polly Wright, Team Assistant and Engagement Manager, leads on education and outreach at the organisation, devising and delivering workshops and events with community organisations alongside our programme of touring exhibitions.