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  • Artist Advancement Programme Posted 25 February 2021

    Click here to download an accessible PDF

    LIFT is launching a commissioning programme for artists to develop concepts for international touring projects with little or no human travel.

    The pandemic has limited travel and touring. The climate crisis is accelerating. Internationalism has never been more important. In the face of xenophobia and populism on the one hand, and the power of global movements on the other, Concept-Touring supports new worldwide solidarity and ways of working together.

    LIFT is creating an online residency and commissioning project for artists to develop Concept-Touring, installation and performance projects. We are supporting projects where the idea, process, work, travel but the artist does not. We want to gather a group of artists to develop or adapt ideas and explore new ways to work, tour, exhibit and collaborate internationally. In the immediate, these formats will draw us together despite the raging pandemic, and in the long term, they’ll set a standard for touring and international collaboration which is ecologically sustainable and forges new ties between global and local artists, participants and audiences.

    This project is part of a larger Artist Advancement series at LIFT, a group of interventions and initiatives that strengthen ties between UK and international artists. On this project we’d like to have a mix of artists based in the UK and abroad, likely 50/50.

    Concept- Touring involves:

    • International collaboration with minimal travel and always within strict COVID regulations.
    • Collaboration between international and local artists, or artists and communities working remotely
    • Relays between artists and audiences in different locations.
    • Collaboration and performance that happens in physical, digital realms or a hybrid of both.
    • Recalling what the benefits of touring are to you, your practice and audiences, and devising new ways to re-manifest this.

    This residency creates conditions for artists to incubate and develop ambitious and exciting ideas, initiate new ways of international working, compare notes, speak with peers and other artists and to be mentored by leading international programmers and artists. We’re in new territory and we want to support you to research and explore together.

    The programme of the residency is designed by LIFT and the mentors. There’s an emphasis on generosity, curiosity and connection. You’ll be paired with a mentor artist or curator who can help you advance your project, and a dramaturg will help work on the project. Eight artists will receive a £2,500 commission to participate in the residency.

    The frame of the residency:

    • The Residency begins with an immersion week, 19-23 April 2021, 2-4 hours sessions per day. The exact schedule to be announced based on the participant’s time zones.
    • The Residency will be held on Zoom.
    • Then artists will have 2 follow up meetings with their mentor during April – June.
    • We’ll all meet together for a show and tell on 1 July 2021.

    What do you get?

    • Dramaturgical sessions with an international mentor.
    • £2,500 commission fee.
    • 1-week immersion week in this kind of art-making.
    • Time to work on your project or concept.
    • Membership in a cohort of UK and international artists also hatching ideas around this kind of work.
    • Support from Kris Nelson, LIFT Artistic Director and members of the LIFT team, and experts in technology or community engagement or whatever else you might need.
    • Accessibility support as needed (BSL, disability access, translation, other.)
    • Support bringing the project from the idea-stage to its next phase – that could be a draft, first glimpse, pitchable concept, beta model or staging.

    What outcome do we want for you?

    • We want you to hatch an idea – you can make something; you can create a pitch. You can research. You can hustle or you can take it slow. Ideally, you have had enough time to make and reflect that your idea would be ready for its next stage, and ready to find partners/contexts/producers/funding to make it real.
    • We’ll do some kind of sharing/show and tell at the end of the process within the group.
    • We’d love to connect our audiences to what you’re working on, even in blueprint stages – and we’ll have a budget for you if you want to create an additional ‘making of’ and show off storyboards, blogs, video blogs, TikToks, etc.
    • Future of your project: The IP is always yours. We’ll want to speak to you about possibilities for further commissioning or production, either with LIFT or elsewhere. We guarantee that no matter what, we’ll be there for you after the residency is over to be a sounding board or resource or whatever you need – lean on us.

    Who it’s for?

    • Artists working in contemporary theatre, live art, visual art, dance, choreography, installation and digital art.
    • If your work traverses disciplines, we’re interested.
    • If your project involves models for working with community participants, we’re interested.
    • Concepts, artists and projects that wrestle with the headlines, that engage with politics, that advance contemporary artistic practice. Edgy, joyous, bold, avant-garde.
    • Artists with experience of touring, international collaboration or working across borders.
    • Solo makers or duos. If you are part of a larger collective, then please apply as a solo or pair representative.

    Who it’s not for?

    We regret that we can’t support everyone on this project.

    • Undergraduate-level and emerging artists. For this callout, we’re looking for artists with a track record and international experience.
    • Writers looking for translation support, this one’s not for you, sorry. (If you’re a writer with a concept that involves more complexities than staging a play in another language, this could be for you. We’re looking for bold concepts, big ideas and projects to tour in ways that are beyond the usual play producing model.)

    Here are some examples of work that were not made in the COVID era and do involve some travel but display ambitious approaches to performance and audiences where a concept is travelling more than a ‘production’. Communities are created. Ideas are shared. The audience becomes the performer. An artist in one city creates a concept embodied by a maker somewhere else. Not an exhaustive list by any means, but we feel these are all in the spirit of the Concept Touring Commission:

    • Brick Box’s Hope Springs Eternal took their spa for community care developed in Bradford to Baltic Circle Festival and a community in Helsinki.
    • Haircuts by Children. Mammalian Diving Reflex developed a concept for kids to cut adults’ hair in salons and have toured it around the world.
    • Rotozaza EtiquetteTwo people, strangers or friends, meet in an outdoor public space and are told what to say through headphones.
    • Rachael Young’s Thirst Trap – audiences receive a box to unpack in their homes for a performance to be experienced in their bathtubs.
    • Town Choir by Theatre Replacement creates a collaboration between a writer and a local choir that gets staged in unusual public locations.
    • Dead Line by Jo Bannon – A performance for one audience member at a time, where you pick up a phone and speak truthfully about mortality to someone on the other end.
    • Jerome Bel – Gala – a heart-stopping choreography involving amateur and professional dancers in different cities.
    • Kate McIntosh – Worktable – a workshop where audiences demolish and remake objects.
    • Théâtre Vidy and Ant Hampton have also announced a project making a catalogue of this kind of work called Showing Without Going – check it out as what they are pursuing is in similar spirit to LIFT.


    LIFT actively encourages submissions from those with less visibility in the arts. We specifically welcome applications from women, people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQI+, those with low-income backgrounds and those from Black, Asian, ethnically diverse, Indigenous and migrant identities. This opportunity is for UK and internationally based artists. We’d appreciate it if you would complete our Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form with your submission. Your answers on this form will not be considered when allocating this opportunity at LIFT. You can find the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form here. If this form is not accessible for you to complete, please email submissions@liftfestival.com and we will be happy to find a way to complete it that suits you.


    This application window is now closed

    Any questions please send to this email address: submissions@liftfestival.com

    Deadline: (wherever you are in the world) 23.59 GMT on Friday 19th March 2021