Jerwood Arts Blog: Jerwood Bursaries, what we’ve improved

Nastassja Simensky and Rebecca Lee, Five Verses on Six Sacks of Earth - Material Culture Unearthed Residency, Photo: Reece Straw. Supported by In-Situ and Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership.

Last week we opened the second round of Jerwood Bursaries for self-defined professional development for artists, curators and producers working in and between most* art forms. This round is for those between one and five years of beginning their practice (the first round earlier this year was for those between six and ten years). Each applicant can apply for up to £1,250.

As part of our commitment to improving conditions for artists, curators and producers across the UK, we have pledged to continually review and refine our funding processes. 2019 is a pilot year for our new funding programmes, and the evaluation of the first round of Jerwood Bursaries was our first chance to understand what’s working about our new approach, and what’s not. Based on feedback from applicants, our Artist Advisers and our own experience of running the process, we have  made a number of what we hope are improvements to this second round. Below we’ve set out what has changed, and why.

Perhaps the most significant learning was around the importance of ensuring applicants include appropriate fees for themselves. For this round, we have therefore made including a fee for yourself a basic requirement for the fund, providing links to relevant industry guidance and making it clear that applications where part of the activity is self-funded will be ineligible. This is part of recognising that including an appropriate fee is vital to ensuring artists are valued for their time and expertise through our funding, and that ensuring all artists are paid can contribute to levelling the playing field for artists from all backgrounds to develop and thrive.

We have also given the option of applying for up to £250 for care and/or access costs in addition to the activity budget. Our finding was that these costs are often fundamental for an artist to work, and therefore requesting them as part of an application should not have a limiting effect on the ambition of the core activity.

As this fund is for professional development and not project support or commercial/business development, we expect to be the sole funder of the project, so we have removed the ‘income’ section of the budget. Any small in-kind support offered by other individuals or organisations in the form of time, space or other kinds of support can simply be described in the ‘notes on the budget’ section.

We have also made it clearer that we will not fund the making of new work and showing costs, or international work through a Jerwood Bursary – the activity has to be focused on professional development. Nor is it a fund for primarily buying materials and new equipment, and we have made it clearer under what circumstances these might be included in the budget.

And lastly we have done some work to help applicants make their case. For example, we have changed the questions in the application form to be clearer about the information we’re looking for and what will make a good answer. We have also provided clearer information about the evidence of work we’re looking for and what makes for the best supporting materials to show the quality of your practice.

For example, our Artist Advisers fed back that assessing marketing materials (trailers, reviews, posters) made it difficult to get to the heart of a practice. They recommended that where possible applicants should include actual footage or examples of their work. It’s also best to indicate specific sections of the supporting material for assessors to look at, i.e. if you have a brilliant five minutes within an hour-long film, make sure that is the five minutes that will get seen.

In this second round of Jerwood Bursaries we are looking to fund applicants with between one and five years of beginning their practice: those whose first professional outcome took place between 2014 and 2018. As with all our funding we will take into account a career break for care, health or study reasons.

You can find out more about the Jerwood Bursaries here including an eligibility quiz and full guidance, and see some of the artists, curators and producers selected in the first round of Jerwood Bursaries here. The Jerwood Bursaries FAQ are available to download here.

As ever, we welcome feedback on any of the above. Please do get in touch via [email protected] if you have any comments to share.

Lilli Geissendorfer, Director

July 2019

* a guide to artforms we fund can be found here.