What is a Digswell Arts Trust Fellow?
Fellowship seeks to provide a springboard to artists seeking to become self-sustaining from their art. Regardless of whether they come from full time employment or directly from arts education, artists find the first years of attempting to make a living from their art difficult. Fellowship offers a period of stability which acts as breathing space, allowing them to develop their art in these crucial early years and to build up a range of contacts. Critical to this period of stability is a studio and Fellowship includes a low cost studio.
There are benefits beyond a studio. Artists join a community of others attempting to make the same transition, whom often have experiences to share. Accordingly, there are often opportunities to feed off each other’s work. In addition, artists are able to access opportunities that arise because of Digswell Arts links to the community, as well as Universities and art colleges.
What are we looking for in a Fellow?
Fellows come from a wide range of artistic & creative disciplines from all possible backgrounds ranging from fine artists to jewellery makers, film makers, fashion designers, and instrument makers. Whatever their discipline we expect Fellows to demonstrate high standards of originality of approach and creative imagination in their chosen field with the commitment needed to become a professional artist. We look for Fellows that will work well together as we believe that one of the key benefits of Fellowship is the support provided by other artists undergoing the same journey.
Fellows work together to organise their day to day affairs and activities. Taking responsibility for the “life of the studio” provides an opportunity to learn skills such as organising marketing of an exhibition or working with a community organisation, which Digswell Arts encourages.
Trustees and Advisors
Frequently Asked Questions:
How long is a Fellowship?
How do you select Fellows?
- Fellows are selected on the basis of need, their work, and their value to the community they join.
- Fellows are typically committed artists and craftsmen often University educated with the ambition to emerge as professionals and masters of their craft and the need for Fellowship with Digswell Arts to achieve this.
- Potential Fellows who already work in the local community and therefore support the Trust’s second object will be at an advantage in the selection process.
How do I apply to be a Fellow or Print Member?
Applicants complete an application form, stating their preferred location and an interview is arranged soon after. Applicants are asked to present their work in a short, friendly interview with a selection panel made up of existing Fellows and Trustees. The selection criteria emphasise originality of work, commitment to becoming a professional artist and likelihood to benefit from becoming a Digswell Fellow (or Print Member).
What is expected of a Fellow?
- Fellows are expected to play a full part in the ‘life of the studio’ especially in events organised as part of our obligations to the local community.
- Fellowship is only given to emerging artists who value the opportunity to work with others and are prepared to ‘pull their weight’ in running the studio, this includes taking on at least one Rep Role during their fellowship such as web rep, events rep, maintenance rep etc.
- Fellows must follow the studio rules and health and safety policies of the Trust.
- Fellows must promote the Trust through their activities whilst a Fellow and exemplify the values of the Trust externally.
- Fellows will attend reviews at intervals determined by Digswell Arts, which will be used as a means for the Trust to see the commitment made by the fellow to the organisation, including participation in the running of the studios and open events. Reviews may also be used to determine continuation or termination of fellowship.
- See Summary of Core Fellowship Requirements for full details.
What is the cost of Fellowship or becoming a Print Member?
- Most Fellows pay their ‘Fellowship contribution’ of £120 per month. This very low rate can only be maintained providing all Fellows pay on time by standing order. Digswell Arts makes no profits and all surpluses are reinvested to the benefit of its objects. Fellows who fail to pay their contributions are asked to leave.
- Print Members (who are not fellows and do not have a studio) pay £30 per month for one day a week open access to the print room. They must also attend an induction (to be paid for) before using the print facilities.
Can I take a break from fellowship?
How is fellowship terminated?
When you have been accepted as a Fellow you will be issued with a contract to sign, which will outline the legal requirements of becoming a Fellow including details of when Digswell Arts might terminate the contract and how a Fellow can terminate the contract (usually with three months written notice). Termination by Digswell Arts may be applied if there is a breach of the contract, or lack of use of the studio.
Other than a studio what other benefit might I get as a Fellow?
- Fellows experience a collaborative and supportive environment that offers for a five year period, the space to experiment and innovate within a creative community of other Fellows, that are developing both their art practice and their wider commercial skills.
- As an incubation platform for emerging artists the Trust also support the communities we serve offering workshops and exhibitions to the public, with particular specialisms in printmaking and ceramics.
- There are occasional activities made available to Fellows to support their development. These include social activities, an annual Development day, open studios, external mentoring and funding opportunities.
- Fellows have the opportunity to run classes and workshops from our buildings, with prior agreement from the Trust.
- As a Fellow, the print facility at Digswell and our ceramics facility at Letchworth may be used after relevant inductions and with prior arrangements with Digswell Arts.
What is the benefit of becoming a Print Member?
- Print members apply and are interviewed in the same way as Fellows.
- Print members are not offered a studio but membership entitles artists to work independently in the Print workshop for a day each week and store equipment/materials on site in a lockable cupboard and plan chest drawer. Members are also invited to take part in Digswell Arts events such as Open Studios, group exhibitions, art critiques and meetings.
- A print member will need to be proficient in their chosen discipline and adopt good studio practice, as members share responsibility for the care and maintenance of the print workshop and equipment.
- Prospective print members, new to the studio, would need to attend an open access sessions to undertake an induction into the workshop procedures and facilities before commencing their Print Membership.
How does Digswell Trust operate?
- Digswell Arts is a registered charity with studios in Digswell and Letchworth Garden City.
- It has no staff either part or full time.
- It is managed by its Fellows under a Board of Trustees who meet quarterly and as required.
- All Trustees have specific areas of responsibility – Chairman, legal, governance, health and safety, treasury, Fellows support, interviews, academic support. Trustees give their time freely and are a mix of working and retired professionals. A few are also ex Fellows.
- It manages its own financial resources, is not grant aided, but is supported with low rents and rates from the borough councils within which it operates and to whom it has obligations.
- As a registered charity, these are it’s core aims: a) The assistance of persons who intend to or have become artists or craftsmen, b) The promotion of education and training in art and allied subjects, c) The promotion of the appreciation of art.
- Fellows manage the studios, all playing their part. Some specific roles such as Fellows Representative, Web Representative and Facilities, H & S Representative receive a small reduction to their ‘Fellows contribution’.
- The Trust has a 60 year history of achievement in the Arts with several major world class artists amongst its Fellows and many others serving in the arts and in educational establishments nationwide.
- The Trust encompasses the Fellows, Print Members and Trustees working together.
How to become a Fellow and Print Member
How to become a Fellow
Selection of Fellows is by shortlisting and interview. Interviews will take place following national advertisement usually in the Artists Newsletter and in the local press and at art colleges.
Existing Fellows also assist the Trustees, who conduct the interviews. We particularly seek artists whose work to date leads us to believe that the provision of a DAT Fellowship will help them towards an exciting and fulfilling future and that their presence will benefit other DAT fellows.
Digswell Arts Print-Makers Group
Print membership entitles artists to use the workshop on a specified/designated day each week. Although print members do not have a studio space they are able to store equipment/materials on site in a lockable cupboard and large plan chest drawer. Members are also invited to take part in Digswell arts events such as Open Studios, group exhibitions, art crtitiques and meetings.
Print members will need to be proficient in their chosen discipline and adopt good studio practice as members share responsibility for the care and maintenance of the print workshop and equipment.
Selection of Print members is via an interview with a portfolio. At interview printmakers will need to demonstrate proficiency with equipment and sufficient experience.
Prospective print members are invited to book one of our open access sessions run by member printmaker Sally Tyrie as these sessions provide a superb induction to the workshop and facilities and a useful reminder for those a little rusty.
To ensure that we maintain and fulfill our charitable objectives we require a reasonable commitment and input from our artists, designers and makers – all the work we do and the future development of Digswell Arts Trust is designed to benefit creative practice and to help artists in their careers.
Digswell Arts Trust is set up as an arts and educational Charity. We provide studios, workshops and educational activities. We try to prioritise applicants who we think will be actively involved and therefore get the most out of the Trust.
Things that you must agree to:
- Active use of studio space, minimum of 2 days per week
- Participate in Open Studios
- Be part of the working community
- Have a profile and portfolio on Digswell Arts Trust website and make regular contributions (at least three a year)
- Promote the Trust in marketing material
- Take on Rep Roles during the period of Fellowship
- Support the educational objectives of the Trust
- Participate in Digswell’s annual Development Day
- Be fully compliant with Digswell’s Health and Safety Policy
- Maintain public areas of studio buildings