On this page you’ll find answers to the most common questions we get asked about the commissioning process, and some practical advice relating to the Hatfield Forest call for proposals. We recommend that you have a browse after you’ve read the commission brief and before you work on your proposal, as we hope it will help you focus your answers and write a shorter, stronger proposal.
We realise that this can be a lot to process, so we are here for a 1-2-1 if you have any questions, or if you want to talk through your ideas, the commissioning process and ideas for your proposal. Please email Jo at email@example.com to arrange a meeting or a call.
Our core mission is to energise diversity in arts and heritage. We know that diversity is different for everyone. Diversity for us means: Cultural diversity | Different ethnic backgrounds | Low socio-economic backgrounds | LGBTQ+ | Disability | Neurodiversity | or an intersection of these
We are looking for projects that engage with: Deprived communities | marginalised voices | communities with little or no access to the Arts | those who are culturally curious or want to connect with where they live in different ways.
In your proposal, we don’t expect you to tell us what diversity is or why it’s important (that’s our job) – instead tell us how your project explores or promotes diversity (through its core themes, or needs and interests of its participants), how it has shaped your creative practice, and the diverse communities you would like to work with. Even better if you have an idea of the groups that you’d like to work with, and/or how you will recruit participants.
Environmental Responsibility is the core theme for the Hatfield Forest commission, as detailed in the Commission Brief.
ECDP and the National Trust are committed to minimising the potential for negative impacts on the environment. ECDP as an NPO (National Portfolio Organisation) has a leadership role in the arts/cultural sectors and can therefore have a positive impact on environmental sustainability as we have for issues relating to diversity. This is relevant to the commissioning programme for artists, and we are keen that those interested in this commission for Hatfield Forest consider how they will reduce the impact of their work on the environment. For example, the use of materials – consider whether they are recyclable, made from recycled materials, or can be repurposed after the commission. The aim of this will be to reduce the waste from commissions/exhibitions and the use of non-recyclable materials where possible. Hatfield Forest is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and as such can’t have plant material or seeds brought in from outside unless they are carefully vetted due to the risk of them being a bio-hazard to the indigenous species.
Artists should consider where possible choosing accessible locations for activities and events – locations that can be easily accessed by public transport or walking as well as by older people. We accept that this can be challenging for less central locations. You may wish, for example, to consider including transport in your budget as some forest locations are over a mile away from the closest bus stop.
Our commission call outs are open to creative practitioners working across any media, at any levels of career, as individuals or as part of a collective or a company. This includes, but is not limited to, visual artists, digital artists, writers, poets, performers, theatre practitioners, musicians, dancers and multimedia artists. We ask that you are registered as self-employed, as you will be responsible for paying your own taxes.
We are keen to support diverse practitioners and those working in diversity, to develop their socially engaged and participant-led projects and practices, which often means projects that work with, or in response to, diverse people and communities.
We don’t tend to support funded organisations as lead applicants (such as venues, galleries, museums, festival organisers, trusts, art centres, local authorities, other commissioners or NPOs etc) although feel free to garner their in-kind support, if it helps to strengthen your project and aid delivery. Instead, these types of organisations are often our commission partners or hosts.
Our commissions are often ‘place-based’, inviting creative practitioners to respond to a particular place. This has included cities, towns, beaches and waterways, National Trust sites, forests, and even a housing development that has not yet been built. Many commissioned artists take a ‘residency’ approach, spending time in those places with local people and community groups who they have invited to be project participants.
To see examples of the kind of projects we support, the best place to start is at our commissions page for an overview of the projects we’ve commissioned over the years.
Successful proposals have put communities at the heart of the creative process, while also being central to the artists’ practice and own lines of enquiry. Commissions can capture the spirit of place, give people a voice, connect communities and let people tell their own story in their own words.
We do not tend to support projects that propose large public artworks, such as permanent or semi-permanent sculptures or structures, which often require planning permissions and ongoing maintenance that can challenge the budget and timeline available. We also do not support projects that have little or no participation.
We have around five commissions a year, but not all are in the same location, and not all are selected via an open call. It is unlikely that the same place will come up again (unless it is part of a series, such as the Dunton Hills commissions). Funded through the Arts Council of England as part of our NPO (National Portfolio Organisation) Programme, we have a commitment to spread our projects across Essex, the South of England and occasionally internationally. For each commission, we work in partnership with a different organisation to host and/or co-commission.
Our next commission call out is for Hatfield Forest National Nature Reserve, which is the fourth commission we’ve developed in partnership with the National Trust, responding to different sites.
At the proposal stage, we are not looking for too much detail, or for everything to be costed out to the nearest pound (as you would in a funding application). We would like to see a few very basic budget lines with estimated figures (in one totaled lump sum). We will be looking for project management skills and your ability to set out a whole project budget, so this is an opportunity to show that you’ve considered all potential project costs. Depending on your plans, this may be artist fees and expenses, workshop/event costs, participant expenses, marketing and participant recruitment, and costs associated with the creation of the artwork. Unknown costs could be highlighted, and covered within a contingency.
For the Hatfield Forest commission, you are not expected to budget for hiring any space within Hatfield Forest, as this will be provided as part of the support from the National Trust.
At the proposal stage, we are not looking for too much detail so it could be 4-6 lines of the key milestones in your project. This is an opportunity to show off your project management skills and let us know that you are able to plan and deliver the project on time and to budget.
We like to see a realistic amount of time built in for research and to recruit participants; when the workshops will take place; and if you’ve considered an end of project culmination event to bring together participants.
For the Hatfield Forest Commission we are seeking projects running from April to November 2024, with on-site delivery taking place between May and September. The appointed practitioner will need to work within this preferred timeline, which has been set by the commissioners.
We expect the appointed artists to evaluate and track the outcomes of the project, with our support, and we will provide guidelines for this on appointment.
It is important for Essex Cultural Diversity Project, as an Arts Council England funded National Portfolio Organisation (NPO), to report on all of our activities effectively and accurately. Commissions are a key element of our NPO programme and we expect there to be important outcomes, which we will work with the commissioned artist to record and track.
The appointed artist is expected to provide a final report at the end of the commission and record both quantitative and qualitative information to support ECDP in capturing outcomes. These include:
- Description of what took place and numbers of workshops/events/meetings
- Numbers of participants, volunteers, audiences who attended events and digital audiences
- Reflections on how the commission has impacted on the practice of the appointed artist(s), and how the commission may have impacted beneficiaries
- Any recorded feedback from participants/beneficiaries or partner organisations involved
- Photos from workshops, events and the artwork/performances
It is expected that the commissioned artist(s) will meet with commissioners regularly throughout the project, to update on progress and talk through any issues or challenges.
At the proposal stage, we’re not expecting a fully formed idea with worked up drawings, rather a strong creative idea and some interesting starting points (inspired by the commission brief), along with some thoughts about who the participants might be and how you will engage them.
Please also read the FAQs re the budget and timeline, to get an idea of much detail we need for these areas, and to avoid spending more time than you need to on these sections.
We’d like to see enough information to help the panel visualise what your project, participant events/workshops and possibly final artwork might look like, but don’t nail it down too much… think about providing a good solid structure for the project, but leaving room for the ‘voice’ of the participant to shape the work.
Hatfield Forest is managed by the National Trust, and there are several areas you could use, as needed. You are not expected to budget for hiring any space within Hatfield Forest, as this will be provided as part of the support from the National Trust.
Outdoor spaces: key touchpoints could be the Lake Area where there are a number of facilities); the Dog Free Zone (adjacent to lake area and near facilities); and Elgins car park (which is a little further away from facilities).
Indoor spaces: Outdoor classroom (near Dog Free Zone above); Classroom (in Lake area); Estate Office mess room (in the NE corner of the Forest, closest to the bus stop opposite the Green Man on Takeley Street)
Shelters: There are a number of gazebos available in various sizes if you need them.
Local village halls
The National Trust has contacts for a number of the local villages and their spaces, but you will need to budget for the use of these:
Great Hallingbury Village Hall
Takeley Village Hall
Takeley Old School
Hatfield Broad Oak Village Hall
Hatfield Heath Village Hall
We accept written, verbal and video proposals for this commission, in response to the Commission Brief. We can also accept your submission in the form of a 1-2-1 interview with a member of the ECDP Team, recorded on Zoom.
To apply, please email your proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org by DEADLINE and include the following:
- The title of your proposed project
- An outline of the artistic concept and its creative starting points, intended participants and any groups you may like to work with, your community engagement process, and potential legacy (no more than 600 words).
- How your practice and project explores or promotes diversity (no more than 200 words).
- Some info about you and your work. This could be a short biography with examples of previous work / a CV / links to your website and social media.
- A short, estimated budget outline, showing how you would utilise the £15,000 (4-6 lines)
- A short approximate timeline for the work (4-6 lines with key milestones from April – September 2024)
From the proposals received, a panel will shortlist up to six projects, and invite shortlisted creative practitioners to an interview.
Proposals are usually shortlisted by a panel of at least three people representing the commissioners, on the strength of the following:
Response to the brief and relevance to ‘Place’
Evidenced in your outline of the artistic concept and creative starting points for the project
Evidenced in your CV, website, social media or bio
Diversity and potential benefits to participants
Seen through how your practice and project explores diversity, who you’d like to work with and the reasons for their involvement, your community engagement process and if there are strong diversity messages.
Track record and project management
Evidenced in past projects, ability to deliver the project on budget and on time.
We are here for a 1-2-1 if you have any questions, or if you want to talk through your ideas, the commissioning process and ideas for your proposal.
Email Jo at email@example.com to arrange a meeting or a call.