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Sadler's Wells Jerwood Studio, Le Patin Libre 's Vertical Influences. Pictured: Samory Ba. Image: Alicia Clarke

Our Approach

We choose to start with the needs of artists. We are committed to improving conditions for those from all backgrounds across the UK to develop and make new work with integrity.

Research shows that the challenges facing early-career artists, curators and producers are concentrated around barriers to accessing opportunities, including funding. This is compounded for those who have backgrounds and identities which have been historically underrepresented in the arts, and made more challenging by low pay, structural inequalities in funding and commissioning, and poor working conditions. These challenges have been exposed and deepened recently by the impact of Covid-19 and made more urgent by the exposure of poor practices by the Black Lives Matter movement.

As a funder with limited resources, we recognise that we have a specific sphere of influence within which we can try to address some of the needs and challenges facing early-career artists, and the wider sector. In particular, we want to reduce the barriers some individuals face in accessing our funding. We want to invest in their capacity, capability and confidence to apply not only to us, but to other sources of support too, thereby supporting their long term success.

Open & trusting grant-making badge We are a member of the Open and Trusting campaign run by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) and London Funders, Along with more than 50 other UK foundations and charities, we have signed up to the campaign’s eight commitments, which  align strongly with our core values and set out clear practical ways to be more open and accessible to potential applicants and grantees.  

As an arts funder supporting both individuals and organisations, we have made a number of changes in recent years to make our processes kinder to applicants which can be read about below under three key areas of activity: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Fair Pay and Environmental Sustainability.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We are committed to improving access and inclusion across the arts through our funding. Research shows that diversity is vital to artistic vibrancy and vision, but change has been slow. Since 2010, we have been particularly focused on improving opportunities for individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds to get in to the arts through the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme.

We are committed to promoting, commissioning and supporting Black, Asian and ethnically diverse artists. Not only making sure that our funding, exhibitions and awards are representative overall but that the most transformative opportunities we offer are accessed by artists facing discrimination and structural barriers. As part of this we have been working to be kinder with application processes, more generous and thoughtful with advice and feedback, and more welcoming to everyone who approaches us.

We are committed to deepening our understanding of the barriers early-career artists of all kinds face to fulfilling their potential, and finding ways to make our processes more inclusive.

Since the launch of our current Strategic Plan in 2019, we have:

  • produced new, clearer guidance to help potential applicants decide whether to apply and invested in our application portal to make it easier to use
  • provided time frames for decision-making processes and published these up front
  • removed application fees to all our opportunities
  • not asked for CVs as part of funding application processes
  • piloted working with Artist Advisers to broaden our taste, national reach and art form expertise
  • provided unconscious bias guidance and support to all readers and selection panellists assessing applications
  • introduced balancing and positive action into decision making at critical moments (for example around art form, location and monitoring information), to note any % variances between the total pool of applicants and the longlist/shortlist. Where two or more equally strong applications are in play, we choose to recommend the applications that will result in a balanced, representative and inclusive long/shortlist for consideration at the next stage
  • assessed all applications ‘blind’, without names or other monitoring information attached
  • consistently collected monitoring information across our opportunities to deepen our understanding of who our funding opportunities are reaching and who we were selecting, and using this to inform our approach and strategy
  • increased our access support for enabling people to apply to us, including providing application materials in accessible formats, enabling audio/video applications and paying for access support workers
  • implemented an access support document when we commission artists
  • offered feedback on request to over 1,000 unsuccessful applicants
  • surveyed applicants to gain feedback on their experience and signed up to Grant Advisor and 360Giving
  • invested in our team through diversity and disability training, coaching and mentoring including unconscious bias training
  • started a staff reading group on anti-racism
  • stopped using the acronym BAME prompted by online discussion and open letters about its failures
  • ensured Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people are represented on our selection panels

We recognise that we are on a journey and are learning all the time.

Data monitoring is now starting to provide insights on who are opportunities are reaching and who we are funding. Between January 2019 and May 2020, we directly received 2,090 applications across seven of our projects, and from this selected 107 individuals to work with. You can download a report of the monitoring information we collected here and a full data file of anonymised information here. This data will be added to as and when we run opportunities in the future.

The report does not contain monitoring information about opportunities we ran before January 2019 as the data was not collected in a way consistent with our new processes. We do know, however, that representation across our work historically has not been as representative as we would have liked.

Fair Pay

Jerwood Arts is a Living Wage Foundation Employer and Living Wage Funder. We are committed to ensuring that artists are appropriately paid for their time, contribution and expertise, whether directly by us or through our funded projects. Our minimum expectation for is that all artists benefiting from our funding will be paid the Living Wage Foundation prevailing UK rates. In many cases, we would aim to recompense artists at above this rate in recognition of their skill, expertise and training. Where we offer an opportunity, we will say how much time is required from the artists and how the pay will meet at least our minimum standards.

When making an application to us, we encourage applicants to research the industry standard day/week rates relevant to their discipline.

Some unions and support organisations, which offer guidance:

Environmental Sustainability

As a responsible funder we are committed to developing more sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices across all our work. Our approach has been influenced by the Sustaining Great Art and Culture report published by Arts Council England and Julie’s Bicycle, and the Charities and Environmental Responsibility guidance issued by the Charity Commission. In 2019 we signed up to Culture Declares. Our staff team is committed to the following:

  • reducing consumables used in the office and recycling
  • using Fair Trade and more environmentally friendly products where possible
  • reducing, reusing and recycling materials used in our exhibition productions, and reducing energy consumption in our gallery and office
  • using suppliers who hold and actively pursue their own environmental policies
  • working with local businesses and caterers to reduce travel costs and carbon emissions
  • walking, cycling and using public transport wherever possible whilst on Jerwood Arts business
  • using technology to reduce the need for travel, improve energy consumption and reduce waste

We pride ourselves on being a learning organisation and are committed to educating ourselves and keeping our minds open. If you have feedback for us, we’re listening at