Our approach to designing the Jerwood Developing Artists Fund involved creating a two-step process: an Expression of Interest stage followed by an invitation to a small number of arts organisations to make a full application to be considered by the Jerwood Arts Trustees at a quarterly Board Meeting.
Our aim was to:
- reduce the work of application making for organisations
- increase the quality of applicants’ experience
- increase the final success rates
- enable us to focus our time on providing more targeted application support, in particular for organisations new to us
- enable us to focus more of our time on developing best practice programmes
Having not offered funding for organisations since 2019, we had a backlog of organisations with programme ideas waiting to apply. For our July and October Board Meetings, we invited 20 organisations each time to make applications, with most submitting their proposals and some deciding to take more time. Across the two meetings 28 applications were discussed and 14 were funded which, coupled with two other grants made earlier in the year, allowed us to invest £1m into artist development programmes over two years. The portfolio will continue to be built and balanced throughout 2023 and beyond. We’re pleased to have achieved a 50% success rate at the final selection stage and we’re getting positive feedback from applicants on the experience.
In August, we added an Expression of Interest opportunity to our website for those who had not worked with us or been in touch with us previously. Following a gentle marketing campaign through our newsletter and networks, we received 58 applications by the first EOI deadline in October and we have had conversations with 15 of these about making a full application. The EOIs gave us valuable insights: applications suggested there was less and less support for early-career artists development, and much activity that was ‘core’ pre-2019 was now being fundraised for as project grants. This included the day-to-day support that many organisations offer artists to help build their careers including skills training, career advice and raising awareness of how the ‘business’ of the arts works.
Many EOIs we received were for programmes that supported 16-year-olds and upwards. While vital entry points into the arts, these sit outside of Jerwood Arts’ remit. We aren’t sure whether this was a lack of clarity in our guidance or symptomatic of a real and growing problem with a lack of funding for starting out in the arts. Jerwood Arts remains focused on supporting early-career artists who have at least one year’s professional experience and have already demonstrated a sustained commitment to their artistic career. Programmes we support must offer a fully resourced, transformative opportunity to their practice.
Following the EOI deadline of 1 February 2023 we are going to close for EOIs. This is because of the high demand so far and the reality of our available resources. We want to manage expectations and ensure we’re not wasting organisations’ time and effort and giving ourselves the time to engage properly with all EOIs submitted by that point.
Our resources allow us to grow the Fund’s portfolio to around 25 active programmes each year, and so staying open to further EOIs post 1 February 2023 would take us into territory where organisations are applying with almost no chance of success. Once we’ve balanced our portfolio, we will look to reopen for EOIs later in the year with clear guidance on the artforms, geographic reach and types of programmes we would be looking to support next. We will continue to be transparent about the Fund, and announce the re-opening of the EOI across our channels.
Jon Opie, Deputy Director
Lilli Geissendorfer, Director