Concept Touring

A commissioning programme for artists to develop concepts for international touring projects with little or no human travel.


The global pandemic 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 supported new worldwide solidarity and ways of working together.

The online residency and commissioning project supported projects where the idea, process, work, travel, but the artist does not. We gathered a group of artists to develop or adapt ideas and explore new ways to work, tour, exhibit and collaborate internationally. In the immediate term, this was a way to come together despite the pandemic keeping us all physically apart. In the longer term, Concept Touring drew together ideas that’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 forms part of a larger Artist Advancement series at LIFT, a group of interventions and initiatives that strengthen ties between UK and international artists. The residency created 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.

The programme of the residency was designed by LIFT and the mentors with an emphasis on generosity, curiosity and connection.


"The projects developed were a return to human connection that was missing, encouraging people to return to forms of intimacy. It was the right programme that came at the right time."
— participating mentor

Participating Artists

"I feel like this process opened up a new door inside of my work."
— participating artist
"It gave us time to think about what is interesting or important about distance? What is the emotional power behind that?"
— participating artist


Concept Touring was evaluated by external evaluator Dr. Meg Peterson.

"Through this residency and process facilitated by LIFT, it was evident that Concept Touring is a journey and a spectrum of engagement, not a prescriptive model for how artists can think differently about how they might tour their work and how curators and producers might programme it. Rather, Concept Touring is an exciting range of models, still very much in its early stage of development. It is along that continuum where innovation can and is happening."
"Concept Touring challenges the sector to think about how these new models can be a space of innovation where the potential impact of creativity and the arts be magnified with great potential for other sectors to be involved, expanding where funding comes from and how innovation takes place."
— Dr. Peterson


This work was generously funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.