What is the Jerwood New Work Fund?
The Jerwood New Work Fund (JNWF) is our funding pathway for extraordinary early-career artists, makers, curators and producers who have recently completed a development programme, award, residency or fellowship supported by Jerwood Arts. The fund offers project grants from £2,500 – £10,000 directly to early-career artists to fund the final development and presentation of new projects and bring bold new work to audiences across the UK. Find out more about the Jerwood New Work Fund.
What’s the story so far?
Kicking off the fund last autumn, we invited 231 artists, makers, curators and producers who had completed a Jerwood Arts funded development programme, award, bursary or fellowship since March 2020 to apply. Assessment and selection were undertaken by four Jerwood Arts staff and four Artist Advisers, with 24 artists across 18 projects selected in December. Since then, we have been working with them to prepare for the announcement and supporting them as these milestone projects get underway.
And what’s the story behind that story?
The pandemic shifted dynamics across the arts and gave us pause for thought, as well as opportunities to try new things. Many of Jerwood Arts awards, fellowships and funds since 2020 has been offered directly to early-career artists, reflecting the lack of opportunities at the time and the urgent need to help individual artists continue to develop their practices. We collaborated more than ever, explored how unsustainable applying for opportunities can be when there’s a low chance of success, and experimented with alternative selection approaches to reduce the unpaid labour of application making and increase success rates. We took time to crunch more of our data and evaluated the impact of our support in more detail. We became increasingly aware of the ‘cliff edge’ many artists face at the end of a period of support.
Last year, we started to pull together what we’d been learning and reflecting on. We evolved how we offer support for organisations to create a two-stage application process that allows us to work with organisations to create sector-leading, fully-resourced development opportunities for early-career artists, makers, curators and producers across the UK. We also decided to end our exhibition and events programme at Jerwood Space in London to channel more of our resources into national development programmes and more opportunities for artists.
For us, the logical next step was to revisit how we can best support individual artists directly.
Learning from Jerwood New Work Fund 2019
This isn’t the first time we’ve funded artists’ projects through the Jerwood New Work Fund. At the end of 2019 we ran a national call for entries and funded 15 projects. At the time, the grants were for research and development. Almost immediately, the pandemic hit; in many cases the projects stalled. However, in 2021 and 2022 we were delighted to see how through the tenacity of the artists, many grew into exceptional projects and new works. For example, Heather Agyepong’s The Body Remembers became an incredible national touring show, Lanre Malaolu’s SAMSKARA had two sold out runs at The Yard Theatre in East London, and Phoebe Davies’ work underpinned what became an expansive exhibition Points of Rupture at Site Gallery in Sheffield.
The experience showed us that offering high-trust direct project funding to artists to lead and build ambitious projects on their own terms can generate exceptional new art works for people to engage with. It also demonstrated that even in the face of huge challenges, independent funding can help empower individual artists to step up confidently into the next stages of their careers.
The relaunched Jerwood New Work Fund
Relaunching Jerwood New Work Fund as a progression fund helps us achieve our aims in two ways: first, it builds on a successful funding model; second, it focuses our limited resources on a smaller group of artists with track records of extraordinary potential. Based on what we know about the impact of our grants, this means overall we’ll be supporting more early-career artists to achieve their next milestone moment. This means we can increase our advice, guidance and access support for the fund and crucially it increases our success rates, makes the process of applying more rewarding and results in less unpaid labour for artists. We’re looking forward to having more capacity to support the selected artists too.
Jerwood New Work Fund answers the ‘OK, I’ve learnt all these things and scoped out all these ideas, I’m ready. Now what?’ question that comes to artist’s minds after a significant period of support. We’re confident it will help artists to thrive as they work to establish their careers.
So, how does the pathway work? Where do I apply?
Our funding pathway for individual early-career artists, makers, curators and producers now begins with a Jerwood Developing Artists Fund programme or one of our Awards and Fellowships. These are our ‘front door’ and over time, they will offer more opportunities, to more artists, across more of the UK.
These opportunities are created in partnership with leading arts organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We select them based on their commitment to fostering early-career artists’ careers, and because they demonstrably uphold best practices of artists’ care and inclusive decision making alongside designing imaginative development programmes. We work with them to create transformative artform, discipline and genre specific programmes that focus specifically on developing early-career artists’ practices, providing time, space and resources for artists to experiment, learn new skills and take risks.
The next step on the pathway is Jerwood New Work Fund. Applications are by invitation only to artists who have recently completed a Jerwood Arts supported development programme, award, bursary or fellowship, and we expect to open the fund for applications at least once a year. To see all current and upcoming opportunities, go to our Apply page.
We are exceptionally excited for the projects being developed by the first 24 artists we’re supporting through the relaunched Jerwood New Work Fund. We’re also excited to build relationships with the artists, makers, curators and producers we are currently supporting through Jerwood Developing Artist Fund programmes who will become eligible for the Jerwood New Work Fund over coming years.
So, as we like to say: onwards!
Kaya La Bonté-Hurst, Project Manager
Jon Opie, Deputy Director
Lilli Geissendorfer, Director