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OPEN CALL – Commission Opportunity with The NewBridge Project & Dwellbeing

Posted: 4 Sep 2018



With Dwellbeing and The NewBridge Project

Deadline: Monday 1 October, 12pm

We invite artists to apply for a commission opportunity, to explore the role artists and residents can play in relation to future planning and redevelopment in Newcastle upon Tyne, working closely with residents in Shieldfield.

This commision opportunity has emerged from the research interests of both NewBridge and of a group of co-researchers, Dwellbeing, in Shieldfield. It is responding to NewBridge’s interest in community-led, grassroots approaches to use and design of urban space and Dwellbeing’s interest in planning policy and development issues, and the relationship between Local Authorities, developers and local communities.

The commision is an opportunity to creatively explore this context and bring together artistic and community voices that are currently underrepresented in conversations about regeneration and culture within the city, and look at how things might be done differently in the future.


Who’s involved

This project is a co-commission between Dwellbeing and The NewBridge Project.

Dwellbeing, is an on-going arts-based Participatory Action Research (or PAR) project in Shieldfield that is responding to the impacts of rapid urban development in the neighbourhood in recent years. The project has been initiated by art collective JHA (Julia Heslop, Hannah Marsden and Alison Merritt Smith), in collaboration with Shieldfield arts organisation Holy Biscuit and a group of co-researchers made up of 15-20 community members of mixed ages, living or working in Shieldfield. In recent years Shieldfield has been subject to rapid urban development and ‘studentification’ and is an area that is at risk of further development that is not resident-led with potential negative consequences for the existing community.

The NewBridge Project is an artist studio and gallery based across two sites in Newcastle and Gateshead, who create collaborative programmes that explore the civic, social and economic landscape in which they exist. As they search for a future, long-term building, they want to critically explore inclusive and open ways to develop space and community, that is led by artists and residents. NewBridge are aware of the dangers and negative role cultural activity can often play in residential urban areas, and see this commission as part of their research in how to critically and honestly engage with themes such as culture-led regeneration, gentrification and art washing. Through initiating this project, they want to start exploring more positive, collaborative alternatives, where artists and residents voices are heard, and their needs and interests met by cultural spaces within their locality.

The project also has the potential to engage with researchers from Newcastle University’s Planning Masters – who will bring in knowledge of planning and development processes, and will be exploring the wider political economy of development.

What we are looking for

In Shieldfield land ownership and use is a hotly contested issue, specifically who has access, who maintains and who profits from urban space. This commission will focus on the politics of land and development in Shieldfield and as a result we are looking for ideas that explore creative and resident-led alternatives to mainstream development. This may also involve examining the role that place-guarding (the active protection of neighbourhoods) can play in this process.

We are interested in ideas and projects that closely work with residents, community members and community organisations in Shieldfield and we are interested in ways that people can participate both directly and indirectly to communicate these issues to a broad audience.

Our hope is that the artist will work with affinity and in alliance with the struggles in Shieldfield, and have experience of working in social art practice and with community groups. The artist must have a critical understanding and good knowledge of the historical and contemporary issues around art, gentrification and art-washing, and a willingness to be immersed within the PAR approach. We do not require the artist to be an expert in these issues but be willing to learn.

Other information



This fee is to cover research and development, artist fees, travel & expenses, engagement, production and materials.

We can support you to find affordable accommodation options if you are not based in the North East, but this must come from the above fee.

We can also provide support through the use of a studio / making / workshop space at The NewBridge Project.


The project must take place between October 2018 – March 2019. Your time could be spread across the whole period, or over a shorter, more concentrated time period.

We have not specified an exact time commitment, as we appreciate that time will be dependent on the nature of the commission, and other costs within your budget,  so please write in your application what your fee would be, and the time you intend to commit to the project.

Background information

As part of the commission the artists must attend community meetings with the Dwellbeing group*. These meetings alternate between processes of action – such as field trips and workshops; reflection, such as group discussion; and planning future actions.

The project will not have a set base within Shieldfield (although there are potential spaces that could be used for short periods of time). However, studio and workshop space can be provided at the nearby The NewBridge Project at Carliol House, in the centre of Newcastle, which can also host events and workshops in addition to activity taking place in Shieldfield.

Throughout the project the artists will be expected to work in partnership with Dwellbeing’s partners, such as Holy Biscuit and the Shieldfield Forum Café.

Please note that Newcastle City Council’s residency programme in partnership with Holy Biscuit will also be running during the period September 2018 – March 2019 and this artist will also be spending time with the Dwellbeing group on other areas that are of interest to the group. It is a seperate project although there may be some overlap or opportunities to work together.


How to apply

We are asking for initial expressions of interest to include:

  • A project proposal (no more than 2 pages of A4) to include:
    • Your interest in the commission, and initial ideas and approach for the project
    • A draft timeline for the project and an indication of your time commitment
    • A draft budget
    • Background on your work and previous relevant experience in working in community or residential settings.
  • An artist CV
  • Links or images (up to 10) of your work.


Please send your application to

If you have any questions please get in touch with us on the email above, or on 0191 232 8975 / 0191 477 1884

Key Dates

Deadline for expressions of interest: Monday 1 October, 12pm

Informal interview and chat: Wednesday 10 October

This will be a chance to chat more to The NewBridge Project and Dwellbeing about your ideas and approach.

PAR training Workshop:  Early November, date tbc

*Fortnightly meetings with Dwellbeing are held on the first Friday of every month, 10am-12pm and the third Tuesday, 7-9pm. It is hoped that the artist will attend at least one of these meetings each month for the duration of their project.