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Arts Awards

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What are Arts Awards?

Arts Awards support imaginative and experimental arts projects that explore biomedical science.

The scheme aims to:

  • stimulate interest, excitement and debate about biomedical science through high-quality, original artistic practice
  • examine the social, cultural and ethical contexts of biomedical science through the arts
  • encourage new ways of thinking
  • promote high-quality interdisciplinary practice and collaborations between arts, science and education practice
  • support formal and informal learning.

The scheme is open to a wide range of people, including artists, scientists, curators, film makers, writers, producers, directors, academics, science communicators, teachers, arts workers and education officers.

Your project must involve the creation of new artistic work and have biomedical scientific input into the process, either through a scientist taking on an advisory role or through direct collaboration. This expert may be from an ethics, science or history background, but must be an expert in the area of biomedical science you are investigating.

If your proposed project has an artistic dimension but does not involve the creation of new work, then it may be more appropriate to apply for a People/Society Award. Film projects that are not artist-lead films and/or are mass broadcast media projects may be better suited to the People Awards for production, outreach and dissemination costs or the Development Awards (Broadcast, Games and Film) for development costs.Please contact the scheme advisers if you need further information or advice.

You can apply for funding at two levels:

Small Arts Awards (small- to medium-sized projects - up to and including £30 000)
Funding can support the development of new project ideas, deliver small productions or workshops, investigate and experiment with new methods of engagement through the arts, or develop new collaborative relationships between artists and scientists.

Large Arts Awards (larger projects - above £30 000)
This funding can support full or part production costs for high-quality large arts projects that aim to have significant impact on audiences. These awards are primarily for applicants with a track record with the Wellcome Trust or Wellcome Collection; however, special cases can be made for teams that can provide evidence of an excellent track record and a particularly strong project idea where the initial research and development of the project has already taken place.

Projects that are not eligible for Arts Award support include health promotion, education or campaign projects, arts projects for therapeutic purposes, factual documentaries, work that is purely illustrative, and projects dealing with non-biomedical sciences.

How do I apply?

To be eligible, you must be based in the UK or the Republic of Ireland and the primary audience engagement must take place in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. Applicants are usually affiliated to organisations, but you can apply as an individual for a Small Arts Award.

Small Arts Awards (up to and including £30 000)
You should refer to the application guidelines [PDF], Grant Conditions and evaluation guidelines [Word] before completing your application.

Complete a full application form, via the Trust's eGrants online application system (select the 'Small Arts Awards' form in the 'Full application' drop-down menu), and submit it at any time before the published deadline. A sample application form can be downloaded/printed from eGrants.

Please note that organisations need to be registered on eGrants before an affiliated application can be submitted. This is done by contacting the Trust; for full details, see the About page on eGrants.

All eligible projects will be peer-reviewed and assessed individually on merit and need by a funding committee.

Large Arts Awards (over £30 000)
The Large Arts Awards are now primarily for applicants with a track record with the Wellcome Trust or Wellcome Collection; however, special cases can be made for teams that can provide evidence of an excellent track record and a particularly strong project idea where the initial research and development of the project has already taken place.

In the first instance, you must submit an Expression of Interest form [Word]. Forms should be emailed to PEgrants@wellcome.ac.uk, at which point they will be acknowledged and reviewed by one of our advisors.

If you are successful at this stage, you will be invited to submit an application form, which will be peer reviewed and assessed by a committee. If your application is shortlisted, you will be invited for interview where you will be asked to present your project and answer questions.

You are advised to read the Large Arts Awards guidelines [PDF] and Grant Conditions prior to submitting your Expression of Interest form and full application.

What projects have been funded?

You can read summaries of all our previous Arts Award funding.

We have recently funded the following projects:

Dr Andrew Morley, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust
The Aware Collaboration
£30 000

Composer Michael Zev Gordon and poet Ruth Padel will collaborate with anaesthetists Andrew Morley, Kings College London, and Jaideep Pandit, University of Oxford, to create a musical work using verbatim patient accounts of awareness under general anaesthesia, collected during the 5th National Audit Project (NAP5) of the Royal College of Anaesthetists. The piece will be performed at ‘Aware’, an engagement event organised by the Royal Society of Medicine where NAP5 will reveal their findings to the public. The event will also feature other music on dreaming and consciousness, and discussions on the underlying science.

Miss Abigail Addison, Animate Project Limited
Of Mice and Men R&D
£26 652

Of Mice and Men explores and develops artistic responses to biomedical research conducted on diseases and pathologies that are not restricted to one species such as cancer, tuberculosis and rabies. Animation producer, Animate, is working with virologist Bentley Crudgington to partner scientists working at the intersection of veterinary and human biomedical science with animation artists to create artworks which explore the scientific data behind this subject. The project aims to help both parties develop their practice by bringing an aesthetic approach to the interrogation of data and a scientific exploration to the artistic work created.

Ms Anna Dumitriu
The Romantic Disease: An artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis
£18 670

An art/science investigation into mankind's strange relationship with 'the Romantic Disease', tuberculosis (TB), from early superstitions about the disease, through the development of antibiotics, to the latest research into whole genome sequencing of bacteria. Artist Anna Dumitriu will work with TB specialists and researchers to create a significant new body of work leading to an exhibition, a series of practical workshops and discussions, and a symposium to widen public engagement in the issues around this clinically and culturally significant disease. The exhibition will involve textile installations and focus on the relationship of early antibiotics to chemical dyes.

Ms Katie Goodwin
Small Wonders: an art film project exploring the beauty and danger of micro-organisms & protozoons living on surface-water of lakes and ponds
£9 998

Small Wonders is a 3D short art film project exploring the beauty and danger of micro-organisms and protozoons living on surface-water. Drawing from over 40 years of research by UCL microbiologist Terence M. Preston, the artist intends to combine 16mm microscopic film with fragments of recorded conversations between the artist and microbiologist. The film is intended to be projected large and in 3D and evoke a sense of wonder and fascination for this minuscule subject matter. An online blog will document the project which will culminate in an exhibition with a Q&A panel discussion.

Ms Nicola Triscott, Arts Catalyst
£29 830

Ecotoxic is a series of research projects by artists Ariel Guzik, Brandon Ballengée, Micol Assaël and Kuai Shen exploring the impact of environmental pollution on animal behaviour and health. Tracing and unravelling the often-invisible effects of human activity on other species, through their distinctive artistic practices and in collaboration with biologists and environmental scientists, the artists aim to highlight the circulations, disturbances and interconnections between human technology, ecology, and the health of species in our contaminated seas, invaded forests and technologised landscapes.

Mr Jack Lowe, Curious Directive
The Kindness of Strangers
£29 459

‘The Kindness of Strangers’ takes you into the curious life of the paramedic. Step into an ambulance and rush through the city streets to witness the full spectrum of the human experience. Traffic accidents, new born babies, unidentified lodged objects, obnoxious drunks, hypochondriacs, an old lady who has just lost her husband of 47 years, drug overdoses and then home for a cup of tea. All in a day’s work. Using a mix of interaction, multi-media video, original composition, sound and scenography, curious directive explore modern scientific ideas through devised theatre. For this project they will be working with Professor Roger Kneebone, GP, Dr Alec Broom and members of the ambulance service to advise on the piece.

Mrs Shannon Sickels
Recovery: a sonic brain injury drama of being disassembled, and reassembled, slightly askew
£30 000

'Recovery' is an audio-based artwork inspired by Shannon's experience of nearly dying from a subdural empyema, a rare brain infection. It will be developed with Roy McConnell, Consultant Neurosurgeon, experts in neurology from the Royal Victoria Hospital (Belfast), and artists in the Sonic Arts Research Centre (Queens University, Belfast). Part sound-installation, part radio-drama, part visceral-roller-coaster-ride, 'Recovery' immerses a single audience member at a time in the process of reintegrating into the world with an acquired brain injury, of being 'disassembled, and reassembled, slightly askew'. It is a story of terror, discovery, humour, but above all, hope.

Mr Christopher Green
Overpowered: Is the Science an Art or the Art a Science?
£29 820

Overpowered is an experiential theatrical presentation from Christopher Green using the techniques of stage hypnosis, clinical hypnotherapy, original music and showbiz, to explore the impact of the power of suggestion. Through collaboration with researchers, Professor David Oakley at UCL and Professor Christopher French at Goldsmiths, the show will explore the psychology of what happens during hypnosis and ask fundamental questions about how we experience our own consciousness.

Mr Theo Baines, Rise Films Ltd
The Mouse
£30 000

The Mouse is a love story concealed within a fierce urban thriller. The film dramatises the interface of bipolar disorder, psychiatry and deprivation in the life of a vulnerable teenager. The project is a collaboration between filmmaker Theo Baines, adolescent psychiatrist Dr Simon Lewis (clinical lead, Simmons House NHS residential unit) and cinema story-editor Walter Donohue (Paris Texas, 28 Days Later). The film explores the impact of social and economic deprivation in adolescence on young people's first experiences of mental illness and psychiatry, and on their subsequent risk of isolation, unemployment and homelessness in early adulthood.

Mr Thomas Thwaites
I want to be an elephant
£30 000

“I've always wanted to be an elephant... I do not mean look like an elephant, I mean really be one: eating what elephants eat, walking how elephants walk, sensing how elephants sense, and even thinking how elephants think.” The project team of Thomas Thwaites, Harry Trimble and a number of scientific advisers propose to make an elephant exoskeleton that transforms a person in to an elephant. In doing so, the project explores what it means to be human by de-humanising, investigates psychological and philosophical ideas of embodiment, the possibilities of future medical/enhancement prostheses and technologies, and draws on the rich mythological and spiritual history of humans becoming animal.

Dr John Haynes, Battersea Arts Centre
The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland – research and development for a new play to tour in 2014
£22 585

Ridiculusmus is planning an 8-week research and development project in order to create a new play entitled ‘The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland’. David Woods and Jon Haynes, Artistic Directors, will consult and interact with two molecular psychopharmacologists and psychiatrists, and a clinical psychologist and family therapist to investigate the effects of drugs on dialogue in a therapeutic setting. In particular, the project focuses on the treatment of schizophrenia and anxiety disorders in order to write a script that is anchored in the reality of contemporary medical practice.

Deadlines and contacts

Small Arts Awards (up to and including £30 000)
Upcoming deadlines are:

  • 28 February 2014 (17.00)
  • 27 June 2014 (17.00)
  • 7 November 2014 (17.00)

Funding decisions will be made approximately 15 weeks after the relevant deadline and we will tell you the result shortly afterwards.

Large Arts Awards (over £30 000)
Expressions of Interest forms can be submitted at any point in the year for review at the next deadline. We are now accepting proposals for the 2014 deadline.

The deadline for submission of Expressions of Interest forms for 2014 is 24 January.Applicants who are successful at this stage will be asked to submit a full application by 2 May and if this is successful they will be invited to interview on 24 July. A final funding decision will be made by the end of July 2014.

You can contact us at:
Arts Awards
Wellcome Trust
Gibbs Building
215 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE, UK

T +44 (0)20 7611 5757
E PEgrants@wellcome.ac.uk

Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK T:+44 (0)20 7611 8888