Launched in September, a-n’s New Collaborations scheme is a vital element of a-n’s professional development programme that provides both advice and opportunity in support of artists’ artistic and critical practices.

From a record application, the 24 successful awards of between £700 and £1,000 will foster artists’ experimental and research-based collaborations with professionals, including scientists, biologists, clinicians, software and digital developers, writers, dancers and choreographers, a therapist and academics working in other disciplines and with other visual and applied artists.

a-n Director Susan Jones said: “The quality of the New Collaborations applications was genuinely impressive – they showed high levels of understanding of the value of the collaborative process and set out artists’ aspirations for new research in a diversity of settings and across disciplines. We would have liked to award bursaries to many more projects, and although we extended our initial budget considerably to deliver a 23% financial success rate, we just couldn’t respond fully to the demand.”

Prescription for working together

Included in the New Collaborations bursaries are Rachael Allen who, through MEDinArt, is already working “where medicine and art collide.” Allen will work in Newcastle with GP and clinical educator Dr Eleanor Holmes, studying human health through the interrogation of anatomy, medicine and related contemporary art and literature. Rachel Davies will be able to pursue her collaboration in London with systemic family therapist Reenee Singh, researching choreographed performance for a new film. Sam Haynes gets the opportunity to work with a disability arts manager to explore best practice for collaborative working between able-bodied and disabled artists.

Building on anthropological ideas developed through a residency at UCLAN, Cumbrian-based Jac Scott will work with molecular biologist Dr Simon Park – whose previous collaborations include a project with Anne Brodie – towards developing a proposal to the Wellcome Trust. 2013 Liverpool Art Prize winner Tabitha Moses will collaborate with Dr Mark Turner, of Liverpool Women’s Hospital, exploring infertility and IVF, to develop an exhibition at Metal.

Dance and choreography are core to two of the successful projects. Interdisciplinary artist Amy Sharrocks will work with dancer-choreographer Emilyn Claid to reflect on issues of ageing, death and vulnerability, while Suffolk-based Barbara Dougan will collaborate with dancer-choreographer Darren Ellis to enable the artist to learn how to be “active and present” in her own films, which focus on the “physical, intellectual and psychological role of the body in art making.”

Among the collaborations premised on an intensive studio period is a performance-based collaboration in which AnnaMaria Pinaka from London will research gender and sexuality issues with Amsterdam-based Jennifer Picken. Nettie Edwards – the first mobile phone photographer exhibited at the illustrious Fox Talbot Museum – will get to spend time with Paris-based artist Eloise Capet and the Mobile Arts Group, exploring the extent of mobile photography and its role within social media and engagement.

Interdisciplinary artist Jessica Akerman has chosen to collaborate with shoemaker/leatherworker Morven Mulgrew within an experimental, performative costume-making project. Falmouth-based Kirsty Lowry will set up a research studio with Liam Jolly, collectively exploring how environmental conditions affect mood, wellbeing and behaviour. London-based Charley Peters, whose a-n blog recorded her recent drawing residency, will collaborate with photographer-printer Edward Otchere to make connections between analogue photography and her approach to drawing.

Michaela Nettell was seeking “flexibility, time and money” to experiment through a collaboration with sculptor and fabricator Robert Worley. The pair will develop, prototype, test, modify and film objects made in glass, which will act as ‘props’ in a new artwork. A digital collaboration between York-based performance and video artist Victoria Gray and software programmer and academic Oliver Larkin will explore the arts potential for Myolink – the first affordable wireless sensor capable of measuring human bio-dynamics by recording muscle activity and transforming it into a sound score.

Artist and filmmaker Ian Nesbitt is set to collaborate with artist Bob Levene and academics in archaeology and planning, to develop a walking-based proposal for the 2014 Festival of the Mind in Sheffield. Lee Sass will collaborate with architect Karolina Szynalska and Daz Disley of Rough Diamond Productions on a community-based project, creating temporary structures in rural Lincolnshire.

Artist-to-artist collaboration

Among the successful artist-to-artist collaborations is Kim Walker, who from her location on the remote island of Islay gets funds to collaborate with Glasgow-based Sarah Laing. They will create new works based on concepts of play and games incorporating spoken word and sound. Multi-media artists Lindsay Connors and Niki Campbell will continue a collaboration they began as students. Their aim is to generate games and interpersonal interactions, informing new works in installation, film or book format.

Norwich-based artist duo Townley Bradby, who have maintained a personal and professional collaboration for eleven years, will be collaborating with writer Judith Stewart. They want to identify a critical context for Artists as Parents as Artists – the body of work they have created – and its dissemination routes.

Midlands-based Ruth Singer’s collaboration will be with another textile artist, Bethany Walker, testing the co-development of larger-scale public works and exhibitions. Also in the Midlands, Sonya Viney’s collaboration with Katherine Staples centres on a mutual use of ceramics. The artists see the bursary as a way to generate new challenges, to explore new directions and to “learn the flexibility and negotiation” that good collaboration is founded on.

Addressing sustainability from another perspective, Bristol-based Sam Playford-Greenwell and Tom Prater have been enthused by the momentum created by Kevin Hunt’s Hot 100 artist-led index, published by a-n earlier this year. They will use a bursary to develop collaborations with groups in Cardiff, Dundee, Glasgow and Liverpool. Their project will explore the platforms, communications and critique that can support the development, visibility and sustainability of non-commercial artist-led initiatives across the UK. The aim is to create “a resourceful site for all interested in the artist-led, facilitating an ambassadorship to the UK overall.”

Tim Jeeves, whose bursary proposal relates to his PhD research, will collaborate with Cecilia Wee to explore the issue of how artists can make a living. “I will raise questions for artists to address within their own practice and as encouragement for them to self-identify how cultural meaning is produced by the funding that artists take at different points in their development…” Gaining insights from The Edgefund, Creator’s Trust and Spacehive, the intention is to research and identify new models and structures for sustainable working, and articulate within them the issues of gift giving and generosity.

Direct funding to artists

Susan Jones, a-n’s Director, added: “We earnestly hope that the evidence we’ve identified of the need for small-scale, light-touch funds for artists, can feed into reshaping artists’ support and funding policies. There are clear indications that funding direct to artists is a good investment – it supports local sustainability as well as generating art projects that ‘feed the soul’ of communities and audiences.”

a-n’s research shows that in recent years relatively low levels of funding have gone to individual artists from schemes such as Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts. While Creative Scotland reshaped its awards to artists schemes, of the 282 applications (requesting in excess of £4million) to the last Artists’ Bursaries round, a total of 42 awards were made, distributing £510,000 of funds – meaning fewer than 15% of artists were successful. a-n’s three bursary rounds so far this year generated funding requests for over £164,000 from 258 artists. Including New Collaborations, bursaries worth a total of £51,000 have gone to 73 artists, a success rate of 28%.

New Collaborations, Re:view and Go and See bursaries form part of a-n’s professional development programme and opportunities for artists that also includes Airtime networking, Granted seminars and a portfolio of specialist materials and resources on The deadline for Go and see Art Party bursaries, open to application from non-funded artists initiatives and groups who want to ‘take a stand’ at the Art Party Conference in Scarborough on 23 November, is 25 October.

More on

Readblogs by selected Re:view bursary recipients: Kate Paxman, FrenchMottershead, Susan Francis.

Reflections on collaboration – Chris Fremantle’s thoughtful commentary around characteristics and behaviours underpinning collaborative processes, drawn from his analysis of the case studies and interviews published by a-n.

Collaborative relationships index – over 30 articles from the a-n online archive that expose the working relationships between artists and the wide range of professionals they collaborate with, covering hugely varied projects.