Catalyst: Creative Residencies in Cumbria – Open Call to Artists – This opportunity has now closed.

We are pleased to say that we have had an excellent response to our open call. Due to the volume of applications received, we have adjusted our selection timeframe slightly. We will be contacting artists shortlisted for interview by Wednesday 3rd April.

Interviews will be held online over Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th April. We’ll be announcing the names of the three selected artists during the week commencing 15th April.

We will be in touch with all applicants in the next couple of days either to let you know that you have been longlisted, or that your application has unfortunately not been successful.

It has been a real privilege to read the applications and confirmed the breadth of creative talent and ambition across our county. Thank you to everyone who applied. Please watch this space, as we work our way through the final stages of selecting our Catalyst artists.

To recap: Last month, in partnership with Art Gene and University of Cumbriawe launched the Catalyst Creative Residencies programme. Thanks to funding from Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, we are able to offer 3 x artist residencies in Cumbria to run for 10 months from May 2024, each with a fee of £25,000. Applications closed on 3rd March.




Our consortium was seeking three artists working in any artistic discipline, to take up residencies and create new artwork in Cumbria.

This is a brand new project in Cumbria to showcase world class creativity is looking for three artists to make new artwork. Poets, visual and digital artists, writers, theatre and film makers and composers from across the UK were encouraged to apply for one of three £25,000 opportunities. 

From Wordsworth to Ruskin, Percy Kelly to Conrad Atkinson, Cumbria has stimulated and inspired artists for generations. “Catalyst: Creative Residencies in Cumbria”, the title of this new project, will continue this legacy.  

Catalyst is delivered by three Cumbrian organisations: Art Gene, Cumbria Arts and Culture Network and the University of Cumbria with funding from Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership. 

Artists from across Cumbria and the UK, from any discipline – visual and sound art, music, writing, theatre, film and digital media – are invited to apply for one of three residencies based anywhere in Cumbria. This is an exciting career-enhancing opportunity for early-or mid-career artists, who can show a strong and authentic commitment to Cumbria, spend time developing their practice in the county and create a substantial new piece of work or artistic event. 

Selected artists will need to be based physically in Cumbria during their residency. As well as making and presenting their own dynamic new work, they will contribute in a tangible way to the thriving artistic community that already exists in this extraordinary place. 

‘This is a fantastic opportunity for artists! The brief for the artwork is wide open: we ask that it should respond to modern-day Cumbria, its industries, landscapes, issues or communities. The work will raise the visibility and profile of Cumbria as a unique, innovative and creative place to live, work, visit and develop a creative career.’

Maddi Nicholson, Art Gene

‘We’re looking for art that celebrates Cumbria as a place and that interprets and explores what is uniquely different and distinctive about it. We welcome ideas that disrupt and inspire, make people sit up and take notice of Cumbria, or that catalyse and unlock new opportunities.’

Colette Conroy, University of Cumbria’s Institute of Education, Arts and Society 

The three artists will be supported by, and have the opportunity to collaborate with, a network of cultural organisations that are already embedded and thrive in Cumbria. As well as collaborating with one another, each artist will be assigned a lead contact and an artist mentor as sources of additional advice and support.

‘Cumbria is an exciting place for creative practice. At CACN we’re really looking forward to supporting the commissioned artists to make the best of the opportunity. We’re standing by to share what the artists are creating and learning with others across our sector and beyond.

Kate Parry, Chair, Cumbria Arts and Culture Network

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership recognises the importance of culture, heritage and arts in place making and place shaping and formed a Creative and Cultural Sector Panel some time ago to support the future development of the sector.

‘Outside of the county, people’s view of Cumbria is framed by their own experience, be it the rolling hills of the Lake District, farming, our nuclear expertise at Sellafield or building submarines in Barrow. Cumbria is all of these things and more and the purpose of these residencies is to promote the entirety of the county, its nature, industry and heritage, by creating a great piece of art or new experience.’

Jo Lappin, Chief Executive, Cumbria Local Economic Partnership

The Catalyst residencies will take place between May 2024 and February 2025. Work will need to be complete and available for the public to experience by February 2025.

A fee of £25,000 is available for each selected artist. This is to include all costs incurred during the residency, including living and travel costs, any materials and making costs, as applicable, and fees relating to shows or performances.


The closing date for applications was 3 March 2024. The full brief and details of how to apply was linked here.

When completing your application, we request you also complete our online equal opportunities monitoring form (Note: in Q1&2 choose the date of your application from the drop down menu; in Q12 choose ‘By myself’. Thank you.)

If you have a question about Catalyst, you may find the answer in this Catalyst Frequently Asked Questions document.


Art Gene is an artist-led research and production charity based in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. Our focus is regenerating the social, natural and built environment through visual arts practice, working collaboratively with communities, artists, architects, and other professionals.

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) provides a strategic lead on activities contributing to the county’s economic growth. Working with public and private sector-led partners, we’re investing £60.3m in Cumbria’s local economy. Our projects and investment packages are creating and safeguarding jobs, providing modern new business space and levering in millions of additional private sector investment. Cumbria LEP is responsible for the county’s Strategic Economic Plan which focuses on four core priorities; advanced manufacturing growth, nuclear and energy excellence, a vibrant rural and visitor economy and strategic connectivity of the M6 corridor.

Cumbria Arts and Culture Network exists to connect, champion and develop the culture sector in Cumbria. We work to create a joined-up, inclusive cultural ecology, enabling organisations and individual creatives to collaborate effectively. We build skills through a programme of training, development and mentoring opportunities. We advocate for and promote creative and cultural activity across the county.

The University of Cumbria is powered by our three greatest assets – people, place, and partnership. Established in Cumbria to increase higher education participation in our county, to address higher-level skills and sector needs and most importantly to positively impact on the lives and livelihoods of individuals across our communities. Campuses in Carlisle, Ambleside, Barrow (from 2024-25), Lancaster and London, and a presence on the West Coast of Cumbria, provides us with the physical environment, digital infrastructure and geographical reach to deliver our strategic aims.

As a modern university based in the real world, we aim to prepare our graduates for work and life. Central to this aim is the promotion of an environment that encourages our students to use their skills, talent and intellect in delivering social, cultural and economic and social benefit.

The university is investing and being invested in. With £66 million investment from the Borderlands Growth Deal Initiative, Carlisle Town Deal and Barrow Town Deal, we will transform our presence, visibility and impact in Carlisle and Barrow.



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