Open Call: Leeds Arts University 2023 Creative Commissions

19 December 2022

Leeds Arts University is pleased to invite applications from UK-based creatives who identify as Black, Asian or from other minoritised ethnicity groups for the 2023 Commissions Programme.

The aim is to increase the presence of practitioners of minoritised ethnicities interacting with the University and to challenge and develop pedagogy by generating inclusive debate. The opportunity is part of the University’s 2020-21 to 2024-25 Access and Participation Plan, an ambitious five-year plan to develop access to, success during, and progression following University for students from underrepresented groups, including students of Black, Asian, and other minoritised ethnicities. You can find out more about the artists commissioned for the first year of the programme in 2022 and the showcase event.

Dammam, Omid Asadi, image credit Hamish Irvine.Image: 'Dammam', Omid Asadi, image credit Hamish Irvine.

For 2023 commissions, there is no set theme, and applications are welcome across a range of creative areas (e.g. music, creative writing, visual art, performance, etc.).

The two successful applicants will receive:

  • A £2,000 fee to conceive and develop a new commission and participate in a one-day public engagement event, paid at the completion of the commission
  • A £2,500 production budget for the commission to include materials, travel and subsistence expenses and community engagement (if relevant), paid at the granting of the commission
  • Support and mentorship from Leeds Arts University’s Curatorial team

Working within budget as set out in this brief, the artist will collaborate with the Curatorial team to see through the timely completion of this work by 1 July 2023. There is no expectation that artists work on this commission full-time between the granting date and completion date.

The commissions will be launched in autumn 2023 as part of Leeds Arts University’s engagement programme, with presentation possibilities depending on the artistic format. The University will lead on publicity and opportunities for engagement.

Songs My Mother Never Got to Sing to Me, Herfa Thompson, image credit Hamish Irvine.Image: 'Songs My Mother Never Got to Sing to Me', Herfa Thompson, image credit Hamish Irvine.


The opportunity is for UK-based creatives who identify as Black, Asian or from other minoritised ethnicity groups. We are looking for creatives with an artistic practice.

Please note that one of the two commissions will be reserved for a graduate of Leeds Arts University Further Education and Higher Education programmes. We are not able to accept applications from artists currently undertaking an undergraduate or postgraduate course.

Leeds Arts University is committed to pursuing equality of opportunity and is committed to safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of all learners; we expect our staff and collaborators to share this commitment.

How to apply

Stage 1
In order to avoid considerable unpaid time spent in developing proposals that may advantage some applicants over others, the process will involve two stages. Applicants are initially invited to submit a one-page application form including contact details, up to 300 words project proposal and basic budget breakdown and email this to by Monday 30 January 2023.

Please submit your application via the form at the bottom of this page or email a maximum 3-minute video or audio file describing your project proposal and basic budget breakdown.

Click here to download the application form

All applicants will receive an automated email to confirm that their application has been received successfully.

Stage 2
By 15 February, a shortlist of up to eight artists will then be invited to develop the proposals further by 1 March, receiving a fee of £300 each. Two artists will be selected by 15 March 2023.

Invited full applications should include:

  • A proposal for the commission which clearly outlines your intentions and explains why you think this would be relevant for LAU’s Commissions Programme, creative medium, whether your proposal is a new project or expansion or new iteration of a previous work, and thoughts about how you would like to present the commission (up to 750 words)
  • A budget, outlining how the £2,500 will be spent, including material cost, travel expenses and community engagement (if relevant)
  • A Curriculum Vitae detailing experience to date (maximum two pages)
  • Up to ten images and/or up to three audio or video files of recent work, with accompanying captions. You are welcome to include a download link for a file sharing online platform (i.e. Google Drive, Dropbox) in your application.

Please send all materials for your application in one email to aid the consideration process.

María Cepeda, image credit Hamish Irvine.Image: María Cepeda, image credit Hamish Irvine.

About Leeds Arts University
Leeds Arts University is a specialist arts university in the North of England, with roots dating back to 1846, transforming over time from the original Leeds School of Art to Jacob Kramer College and the Leeds College of Art. Students have included Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Damien Hirst, Danny Sangra, and Omar Kashoura.

In 2020, the University committed to an ambitious five-year plan to develop access and participation to the University from underrepresented groups, including students from Black, Asian, and minoritised ethnicities. The 2020-21 to 2024-25 Access and Participation Plan launched this programme of commissions as one of a number of strategic measures including targeted outreach provision for pre-university students from primary to adult learners, contextualised admissions, financial support, research to further develop understanding of the student experience, and support with careers, employability and entrepreneurship.