Opportunity: Residency for EU Artists: Heart of Glass, St Helens

Residency Brief

Deadline: 5 July 2016 

Heart of Glass

Heart of Glass is a collaborative arts commissioning agency based in St Helens. Made possible by an initial investment of £1.5 million from Arts Council England through the Creative People and Places programme, it is steered by a consortium which brings together St Helens Rugby League Football Club, Helena Partnerships housing group, FACT (Foundation for Art + Creative Technology), St Helens Council, St Helens Arts Partnership (Platform Arts, The Citadel arts centre and The World of Glass museum) as well as new partners St Helens College, Northwest Museum of Road Transport, Carers UK and Health Watch. The Heart of Glass programme is rooted in collaborative practice and embodies the principle of partnership.

Our core values, philosophy and approach as a project are founded on co-production with the community and the active participation of the collaborator, non-artist, audience and viewer in the creation of great art. People, both individually and within communities of place or interest, are central to both our thinking and our practice.

Heart of Glass is made with, of and for St Helens. Through our projects, we create a space for dialogue, research and experimentation for artists and citizens in which the inter-relationship between people and place can be explored, gathering and valuing diverse perspectives in the understanding, articulation and development of St Helens as a place, supporting people as constructors of that narrative, drawing out its ‘DNA’, and using that ‘DNA’ as a unique artistic platform for expression.

Through increased participation in the arts, and active collaborations between communities of place and interest, and artists, Heart of Glass is supporting the development of work that directly reflects, challenges and questions the politics of our times.  Our artistic programme examines the current and potential role of art and the artist in this post-industrial landscape by commissioning work that sees passionate, provocative and direct interactions between artists, people and place, creating the possibility through shared art making, dialogue and critique to imagine and express new futures and other ways of being.

This residency has been developed in partnership with CAPP (Collaborative Arts Practice Programme) – which supports artists to work transnationally to create international dialogue around collaborative arts practice. Its Residencies programme takes place across partner national territories and seeks to explore new models of participation and cooperation and encourage exchange of artists’ methodologies and practices in context. The overall goal of CAPP is to improve and open up opportunities for artists who are working collaboratively across Europe, by enhancing mobility and exchange whilst at the same time engaging new publics and audiences for collaborative practices. Partners: Create-Ireland (coordinating lead partner Dublin); Agora Collective, Berlin; hablarenarte, Madrid; Heart of Glass, St Helens; Kunsthalle Osnabrück, Osnabrück; Live Art Development Agency, London;  Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art Budapest; M-Cult, Helsinki and Tate Liverpool.

St Helens

Sandwiched between Liverpool and Manchester, the imperative need for that space and dialogue for St Helens - and for other post-industrial, suburban towns across the north of England - is becoming ever more critical. St Helens is a town of 180,000 people in the north-west of England. The year 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of the town’s incorporation as a borough, bringing together the four townships of Eccleston, Parr, Sutton and Windle. Previously acknowledged as a world-leading industrial force and a centre of innovation, St Helens is now more synonymous with rugby success and post-industrial decline. The local authority is currently the town’s biggest employer, with its former primary industries of glass and coal now replaced with significantly smaller interests in logistics and distribution.

This is a pivotal moment for St Helens and the arts. Council leader Barrie Grunewald said in a recent speech how he wanted to see St Helens “as a centre for excellence in socially accessible arts and cultural practice. I want to use arts, culture and sport as tools to change the way people think about their place and about how they live their lives.” Heart of Glass is key to this. Our vision sees a thriving, dynamic and sustainable arts ‘ecology’ as the basis for cultural engagement and citizenship in a confident, vibrant and revitalised St Helens. The vision positions St Helens as a recognised national and international centre for socially engaged practice.

The Residency

This residency opportunity, for EU based artist/s, will develop through collaboration and engagement with young people (aged 11+) from each of the four neighbourhood regeneration areas of St Helens. Working with our partners Helena Homes and their youth engagement project; Make it Happen we have chosen to jointly fund a live/work residency. This approach will enable an artist/s to become embedded within these communities, over a sustained period, to gain a deep understanding of St Helens as a place, and to create new work in response to their time here.

The specific areas are considered extremely deprived, nationally and within the borough of St Helens, they include:

·       Four Acre; a small estate with a strong identity, the residents are proud to come from here. There is little youth service provision with few venues; a library and church at opposite ends of the estate.

·       Thatto Heath is an area where sports are very popular with young and old and targeted sports sessions have successfully reduced the levels of ASB. There is a volunteer lead youth club for 11 – 14 yr olds but most other activities target younger age groups.  

·       Parr is a large and diverse area with differing levels of deprivation across the several sub-localities. A lot of older young people take part in Parkour independently and there is a thriving council-led youth club.

·       Fingerpost, whilst included in the Parr Neighbourhood Management area has its own board considers itself completely independent.  There is an emerging community hub at the Holy Trinity Church but few existing youth activities.

We are seeing expressions of interest from artists that have a demonstrable track record in working collaboratively with young people, and an ethos rooted in socially engaged practice. Young people would influence and be involved in some of the decision making.

We would anticipate the residency commencing in September 2016 for a minimum period of 6 months. Heart of Glass and Make it Happen will provide accommodation, travel costs, artist fee and a production budget. The artist would be supported by the team at Heart of Glass including Producers and Asst Producers that will be part of the project journey along with Project Officer support as required from Make it Happen. There is also a strong community of artists in St Helens (including other residencies).



5 July: Deadline for artists to send CV and expression of interest
19 July: Interviews - Preliminary research
August: Visit by artist
1 September - 1 October: Residency begins 
30 April - 30 May: Residency complete (there is some flexibility around this date) 


Fee £10k

Travel £2k (accommodation is provided – a flat in Parr)

Production £5k

To apply please send your CV and a short piece of writing (no more than one side of A4) about how you would approach the residency to info@heartofglass.org.uk

Please email any enquiries to info@heartofglass.org.uk

Please note we are unable to give individual feedback to applicants.