After sharing a list of artist opportunities (, it was readily apparent that I have very little experience myself applying for opportunities outside of arts college. So now that I’m free of MA course obligations, I set myself the challenge for 2016 to submit my own artwork at least once a month, and share those experiences and lessons learned on The first of this series shares what I learned from submitting work for upcoming exhibition, “Identity” with an arts organisation called “Art with a Heart” located in Altrincham, Greater Manchester. And if you have any advice to add, by all means, comment on these posts and let’s learn together!

Art with a Heart

Art with a Heart is a charity focused on arts exhibitions and programmes centred in the community of Altrincham, England, helping to “raise the awareness of the Arts and Heritage while supporting emerging creative and young adults.” Founded by artist Karen Wroe in 2012, the inaugural project “Around the World in 80 Artists” gathered proceeds in aid of Children’s Adventure Farm Trust, an organisation that provides holidays and activities for terminally ill, chronically sick, disabled and disadvantaged children.

Projects that followed promoted Altrincham heritage such as “Expressions of the Natural World” and the annual “Altrincham in Bloom” as well as exhibitions that focus on themes as widely diverse as “Pop Art“, “H20, a celebration of water“, drawing and the human form with “Draw your own Conclusions”, and “Trains Trams and No Automobiles” which challenged perception of art in traditional spaces by collaborating with Transport for Greater Manchester and other organisations.


The most recent open call from Art with a Heart is “Identity” (slated for January 2016) which will look at how artists “express, explore, and question ideas about identity across all cultural boundaries”.

Image courtesy Art with a Heart, registered UK charity 1159034.
Image courtesy Art with a Heart, registered UK charity 1159034.

Sharing lessons learned from the submission process

  1. First of all, it seems like a good idea to submit a piece to this project because my work often relates to the proposed theme of identity, memory, and to some degree, a certain persona. A particular work that leapt to mind is “Postcards from the Land of No People (Wish you were here)” from 2015. So not only is it relevant the exhibition theme/concept, it’s also a fairly recent piece of work.
  2. Check all the dates: submission deadline, install/delivery of work, exhibition, PV/opening, de-install, etc. and make sure you can commit to meeting all key deadlines. For instance, late submissions are almost always ignored, so try and submit work as soon as the call opens (or at least well in advance of the deadline date and time). Another example might be to consider if you can’t deliver the work on time for install, the curator may simply remove it from the show.
  3. The submission form for “Identity” is succinct and straight-forward, requiring the usual information: contact details (email, phone), website, artist statement, photo of the work(s) submitted, and description of the work(s) submitted including title, medium, and price. It’s helpful to have submission info to hand (I keep mine organised in a folder on my hard-drive), and make sure your artist statement and website is always up-to-date. The image of the artwork that is submitted may not, in fact, “speak for itself”, and quite often, the organisation/curator wants to know more about YOU and your larger body of work. Even a simple website with some images and a brief but thoughtfully-written artist statement/bio can go a long way as you “make your case” for your work to be included in an exhibition. Pay attention to the fine print and specific requirements (eg image formats, word counts, email addresses, etc.) as submissions that do not comply may be discarded entirely.
  4. If you intend to sell your work, consider having an updated price list/spreadsheet handy.
  5. Some open calls (like this one) request a fee or contribution, which goes toward supporting the organisation and/or the project for which you are applying. It’s handy to have PayPal, credit card, and/or online banking set up in advance to make contribution quick and simple.
  6. Finally, not to be overlooked, but please double-check accuracy, spelling, and grammar throughout the submission form. Everybody makes mistakes but too many and you might be perceived as careless, sloppy, or unprofessional, which the curator may see as a risk to their project.

I hope this has been helpful and and please share any advice and feedback you have learnt from your own experience in the comments below. And good luck with your next application!

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