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17 June 2020

Common Ground Launches

7 people stand in a park gateway, with interlocked arms so as to act as a 'human chain' at the park entrance.
Breathe!, Numbi Arts and Virtual Migrants. Part of Artsadmin’s 2 Degree Festival and NumbiFest 2019. Photo by Greg Goodale.

Season for Change is delighted to launch Common Ground, a programme of four £10,000 commissions for artists, makers or creators, and a professional development programme focused on cultural climate leadership, which is supported by Arts Council England and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. 

The imbalances that exist within the climate movement unfortunately mirror environmental inequalities overall. Therefore, our focus for this programme are artists who belong to one or more of the following groups: Black, Asian or from a minority ethnic group in the UK (a person of colour), refugee, D/deaf, disabled, neurodivergent, working class and LGBTQI+. We hope this commitment demonstrates how Season for Change means to go on: providing additional perspectives to pre-existing movements and work to contribute to the urgent and ongoing task of climate justice. 

We’re all aware these are exceptional times. The circumstances in which this programme was designed – originally building to the COP26 talks that were scheduled for November 2020 in Glasgow – have changed rapidly and dramatically, along with the living and work conditions for so many around the world. While pandemics are by their very nature a global phenomenon, the distribution of Covid-19’s ill effects match the broader societal injustices and imbalances we exist in. 

And it’s in this context that we feel our message and our programme have a new relevance. 

The climate movement is urgent and essential – however, it has not always been representative of those most affected by environmental inequalities. In order to challenge existing imbalances in the climate movement, Common Ground will support four UK-based artists to create artistic work that centres communities and groups that are underrepresented. Common Ground invites applications from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (people of colour), refugee, D/deaf, disabled, neurodivergent, working class and LGBTQI+ artists, however will not expect or require them to explore their identity in relation to these groups through the commission. The programme will support artists who may not have responded directly to environmental concerns before, but have a clear sense of the people, communities and environmental challenges they want to work with.

While we’re centring climate justice in this call out, we are aware we are building on the work of many activists, researchers, individuals and organisations who have been addressing these problems in their own way. 

As we’re seeing a reckoning take place within industries and from communities against systems which have worked against them in these works, it feels like a timely opportunity to explore what ‘leadership’ is in a social action and cultural context. Inspiring and delivering change comes in all forms and it’s with this in mind that we are designing the professional development programme. Collaboration and responsiveness will be key, as well as ensuring a chance for those taking part get insights from across the creative sectors.

Climate justice is urgent: if we are to discuss the lived experience of those people marginalised by society, we have to discuss the environment. We’re excited to be challenged and inspired by the commission proposals.


Apply for Common Ground

You have until Thursday 30 July to get your ideas to us. You must apply via the Artsadmin website but here are the application questions in Word document and pdf format if you want to read through the questions first.

Call Out available as a pdf or Word document or in an easy read format

FAQs available as a pdf or Word document (last updated: 10 July) or in an easy read format

Application Questions (Word document)

Budget template spreadsheet()


Common Ground key dates

Thursday 18 June: Common Ground application portal opens and open call launches

Thursday 25 June (3pm) and Tuesday 7 July (11am): online briefings on the programme – sign up via Eventbrite

Thursday 30 July (10am): Application deadline

Mid September: Shortlisted artists will be invited to expand on their plans as part of an informal interview. 

By the end of September: All applicants notified of outcome by email

Throughout October: Feedback available to longlisted and shortlisted applicants

19 October: The 4 selected artists begin the Common Ground programme 

Spring 2021: Showcase of 4 commissioned works. A date will be announced closer to the time when we better understand how Covid-19 will impact our capacity to gather. 


Further resources

Use the Anger – a blog post from Chiara Badiali, Research and Sector Knowledge Lead at Julie’s Bicycle in response to the recent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement 

The Colour Green – a podcast series hosted by Baroness Lola Young. A series of conversations with artists and activists of colour who are at the forefront of social innovation – connecting climate justice, race, power and inequality.


Want to hear more from Season for Change and Common Ground?

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