Audrey Cook performing Ricky The Itch during SIRFAudrey Cook/Ricky The Itch

Listen to the audio version here

What is the opportunity?

ARC is looking to support artists to try out new performance-based ideas in response to one of the following provocations, working with local communities in Stockton.

There are two opportunities to receive £2,000 in cash, along with space, accommodation, marketing, technical, producing and community engagement support.

These opportunities are not expected to lead to finished work, but artists will be expected to deliver some kind of public sharing of their work at the end of the process.

We are looking for ideas that can be delivered before the end of November 2024. We are not looking for ideas for young audiences (under 16s) in this round.

Deadline to apply: 10am, Tues 13 Feb 2024.


What are the provocations? 

The following provocations were created by independent creative director Paula Clark through creative conversations with our local communities as part of a project in 2021, which began with the question What’s On Your Mind? (you can read more about the project here).

The project was designed to capture the key areas of interest and concern to our communities. We are using them as guiding principles for our programme to help ensure that ARC’s work is relevant to our local communities.

Artists are asked to select one provocation to base their idea around. They are intended to be starting points for creative ideas, we are not looking for literal interpretations.


I want a world where everyone is kind to each other. Where bullies don’t bully and people are not mean. I would like a world where people helped each other, helped the homeless. I want to live in a world where people are kind to animals. Where everyone is treated equally and has the same chances. “I would like to be a doctor so I can help people” “I would like to be an engineer so I can invent ways to save the planet” “I want to adopt lots of children and animals” Nobody knows what’s really going on inside a person. Please let’s be kind to each other. Just smile and say, Hi!


This group, coming here, meeting up, Zoom rehearsals, my friends, my neighbours, the NHS, my mum, spending time with my kids, drawing, making paperchains, ukulele, ARC, nature, walking, outdoors, anti-depressants, red balloons, having someone to talk to, baking, the dogs, Macmillan nurses, furlough, food banks, social distancing, volunteering, volunteers, universal credit uplift, yoga, quiz night, my garden, the river, Joe Wicks, the woods, the park, the church, working from home, DIY, the eco café, this support, this place, these people, have been a lifeline.


Street drinking. Anti-social behaviour. People walking about the town drunk amongst families. Hang on, a bottle of wine in front of the telly? That’s different right? Or two? It is a pandemic. Eat out to help out, the pubs are open! A few beers with the football, hen doo, hump day, feels like a Friday, long day at work, celebrate, commiserate, Saturday night, Sunday lunch, wine o’clock, gin o’clock beer’ o ‘clock, tick tick tick. People are struggling. It’s a taboo subject. Nobody wants to spoil the party, kill the buzz.


What are we trying to achieve?

Over the next three years, ARC is seeking to achieve a shift in our programme to a more community-led/influenced way of working. These opportunities form part of exploring how we might do that, by inviting artists to respond to things that are on the minds of our local communities.

ARC’s artistic policy is to provide creative activity and cultural experiences that are contemporary and relevant. We want to present a creative programme that helps us understand and enjoy the world as it is today and excites us about the future.

Co-design is a key principle of our creative programme. This means we work proactively with artists and communities to develop work that is relevant to and resonates with our local communities. This doesn’t necessarily mean work that is about, or made specifically for Stockton and the Tees Valley, but we present work that our local communities can connect to, and that helps us understand the world we live in.

By communities, we mean communities of place, interest, identity, need and action, and we also think of artists we work with as a ‘community’.

The work we create is for our local communities, but also for communities like ours. They exist all over the country, in areas where there are high proportions of people facing inequalities and barriers to engaging with culture, usually as a result of either their protected characteristics or socio-economic status.

Working with communities

Part of the exploration we want to undertake is around how we can invite local people to be involved in the creation of work that doesn’t necessarily rely on the traditional ‘co-creation’ model. We recognise that not everyone can or wants to work alongside artists as fully participating members of the creative team and are keen to test out other ways of meaningful involvement.

Firstly, we are involving local people in the selection process for these opportunities, which is a form of co-design.

We are looking for artists to consider how local people might contribute to the development of their ideas by:

  • sharing skills or stories in the development of the work, in a way that enriches participants’ own lives; this could be a conversation over a cup of tea, or by artists joining existing groups to learn about their skills, work etc
  • playing a part in the creation of a work during the development process; this could be through attending a workshop or engagement opportunity, or working with artists to engage other people
  • in other new ways that are beneficial for the artist, individuals involved and the creative process

It could be through direct involvement in the creation, playing a proactive role in the development and devising process as well as the final work, working alongside artists in a more traditional co-creation way.

In addition to the £2,000 budget, we have up to £1,000 available to support community participants to take part, which may be in the form of expenses, bursaries, vouchers etc.

What do you get?
  • £2,000 cash budget
  • Producing, marketing and community engagement support from ARC
  • Technical support for the sharing
  • Rehearsal and creation space at ARC
  • Accommodation in the ARC House (subject to availability)

The final sharing can take place in any of the spaces at ARC, but we anticipate would be most likely to be in the Theatre or Studio. You can read about the spaces here

How to apply

Please send us the following information either in writing (maximum two A4 pages) or in a video or audio file (maximum 5 mins) plus one image of your work to [email protected]

Please use WeTransfer (which is a free service) if you are sending large files.

Deadline to apply: 10am, Tues 13 Feb 2024.

Please tell us:

  • Your name and contact details
  • Any relevant experience – this can include professional, educational, voluntary, personal and lived experience
  • Your idea, and how is connects to one of the provocations
  • Why you want to make this work, and who for
  • How you will involve local communities
  • Your ambition for the future of this project
  • How you will minimise any negative impact on the environment in the making and presentation of your work
Selection Process

All applications will be read by a panel made up of ARC staff and local artists:

  • Alexander Ferris, Chief Executive and Creative Director, ARC
  • Lauren Pattison, Producer, ARC
  • Kim McDermottroe, Artist
  • Mark Stephenson, Impact & Development Lead at Recovery Connections

The panel will shortlist a small number of artists who will be invited to a follow up meeting either in person or by Zoom to chat about their idea in more detail. The panel will then select two artists to support as part of this programme.


Deadline for proposals 10am, Tues 13 Feb 2024

Shortlisted applicants notified by: Wed 28 Feb 2024

Follow up meetings: Tues 5 Mar 2024

Feedback to all applicants: Tues 2 Apr 2024

Please indicate within your proposal if you are not available on the date of the follow up meeting.

We will provide brief feedback to all applicants, and more detailed feedback for those who are shortlisted. Feedback will be provided within four weeks of the deadline, or four weeks of the selection meetings for shortlisted candidates.

Selection Criteria

The selection will be based on the following:

  • Idea for the project
  • Potential quality and impact of the community involvement
  • Deliverability of the project, including the skills and experience of the people involved as well as the available resources and timescale
  • Future potential of the idea
  • Environmental impact

Please note: If you need any support in making your application, please contact [email protected].

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