Application to the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
The Lowry – February 2006
Site specific commissions for The Promenade Gallery
1. The Lowry
Set in a magnificent waterside location at the heart of the redeveloped Salford Quays in
Greater Manchester, The Lowry opened in April 2000 with the aim of bringing together a
wide variety of visual and performing arts under one roof with an emphasis on education,
inclusion and diversity. The Lowry’s mission is to “Engage, Enrich and Entertain”.
Home to the largest public collection of works by Salford artist, LS Lowry, the admission-free
galleries are programmed to raise the profile and status of the artist by fostering an
environment for the understanding and appreciation of his art. They feature regularly
changing thematic exhibitions that study and reinterpret all periods of Lowry’s career and
facets of his work, examining people, places, the urban environment, the personal, historical,
social and political. Exhibitions alongside those of Lowry’s work place an emphasis on
contemporary artists, photography, the locality and the context of The Lowry and help to
embed the collection amongst art from different periods, including the 21st century. Our
current, major exhibition The Art of White places Lowry’s work alongside artists as diverse as
Turner, Picasso, Robert Ryman and Michael Craig Martin and has received highly positive
national press and media coverage.
In addition to the gallery spaces, The Lowry also contains two impressive theatres for the
performing arts (1,730 and 466 seats), which have developed a growing reputation for
diversity, range, quality and internationalism: from Peter Kay to Laurie Anderson, the
National Theatre to Cirque Eloize, Kirov Ballet to Nederlands Dans Theatre 1, The Lowry’s
theatres offer something for everyone. Recent programming highlights include Donmar
Warehouse’s The Cut starring Sir Ian McKellan; the Bolshoi Ballet performing Swan Lake
and Spartacus and the return of Mike Leigh to his native Salford with the National Theatre’s
Two Thousand Years. We have also recently commissioned one of our “partner companies”
Rambert Dance Company to create a work which takes LS Lowry’s artistic perspective as its
starting point. This will premiere at The Lowry in the autumn before touring to London,
Edinburgh and other major cities across the UK.
In October 2004, The Studio opened at The Lowry: a new, dedicated home for our
community and education (C&E) programme. The purpose built space presents C&E work
alongside world-class theatre and art. With two visual arts classrooms, two performing arts
rehearsal rooms and a flexible studio theatre, The Studio will help us provide even more
people with access to creative experiences, not just as spectators but as participants,
performers and artists. The Government’s Index of Deprivation ranks nine of Salford’s wards
in the worst 10% in the country and one third of its population are in receipt of some form of
benefit. Salford is the 4th most deprived local authority area in the North West and the 28th in
the UK, with the city suffering from the loss of almost a third of its traditional employment
over the past 30 years. The Lowry is therefore uniquely placed to offer fulfilling creative
experiences to some of the UK’s most socially excluded communities through its education
Since The Lowry’s inception it has been a catalyst for regeneration in Salford. £300 million of
public and private sector investment has come into the Quays with a further £250 million of
investment now in the pipeline over the next 5 years. 10,700 jobs have been created since
The Lowry was begun. The Lowry Project has also kick-started a Water Improvement
Programme, which has involved cleaning the headwaters of the Manchester Ship Canel.
Funded by North West Water and English Partnerships, this creates a vibrant, attractive
water corridor linking Salford Quays to Manchester City Centre.
The Lowry itself surpassed all predictions and expectations by attracting over one million
visitors in its first year and visitor figures are now consistently high at an average of 850,000
people per year with a high number of gallery attendees (1 in 6) never having visited an art
The Lowry Centre Trust (registered charity number 1053962) is The Lowry’s governing body
and was established in 1996, four years before the venue opened to the public. The Trust
has 11 board members. The Lowry’s operating company generates income from commercial
activities (box office, theatres, restaurants and conferencing) which is used to underpin the
artistic and education programmes. The Lowry generates 77% of its own operating costs
from these commercial activities (the national R.F.O. average being 43%), with grants from
Salford City Council, Arts Council England, Trusts and Foundations, membership and
sponsorship bridging the remaining funding gap.
The Lowry has 163 staff and 350 volunteers (the largest theatres volunteer programme in the
UK). It was established to serve Salford and Greater Manchester, however theatre audiences
come from within a two-hour drive time (Birmingham in the south to Carlisle in the north,
Liverpool in the west to York in the east) and gallery visitors are attracted from all over the
2. The need for the Transformations programme
The Lowry’s contemporary art exhibitions are shown in the Deck and Promenade Galleries,
adjacent to the main galleries (where exhibitions focusing on LS Lowry’s work are displayed).
This strand of the exhibitions programme has been growing rapidly since the venue opened
in 2000 and is now a popular and highly regarded element of the overall gallery offering.
The Spotlight programme (previously funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation) was a
major catalyst in establishing contemporary art as a key element of The Lowry’s artistic
programme. It was successful in providing opportunities for regional artists to create new
work, however, it also highlighted the unique challenges presented in particular by the
Promenade Gallery. As its name suggests, the Promenade is a walkway with narrow
passages and deep recesses. It has 20ft exhibition walls on one side and floor to ceiling
windows overlooking the Quay on the other. The Promenade is an unusual gallery, but one
which presents an exciting prospect for artists who choose to create site-specific work for the
This was illustrated by artist Bill Longshaw and his Spotlight-commissioned exhibition, 1962.
Working specifically with the Promenade’s unique architectural features, Longshaw
transformed the gallery into a street, complete with shop and house fronts, lamp posts and
washing lines. The project was well received by visitors and had a major impact on the artist
"The great thing about the promenade is its scale. The sheer height of the walls make them
lend themselves into being transformed into buildings...or the side of a ship...or anything! The
other quality of the space is its light and the way it links the inside and the outside of the
building, allowing what's on the inside to merge with the docks, the water and the city
beyond. The light and the mood of the space will change with the weather throughout the
"Taking on the challenge of working on the promenade represented an opportunity to work
on an altogether bigger scale at an early stage in my career. My previous installation work
was already beginning to gain me a reputation as an artist who worked with community
histories in innovative ways that questioned traditional museum practises. However, working
within the context of promenade enabled me to quite literally expand my ideas by placing 'the
life of the streets’ in a life-sized context. This proved to be invaluable in two ways: firstly it
allowed me to make far more direct references to the film and television sets and heritage
theme parks that are frequently used to articulate our personal mythologies and secondly it
allowed visitors to actually step into a totally different version of the past".
Bill Longshaw, 2005
With funding and access to The Lowry’s technical facilities over an extended period,
Longshaw was able to create work on-site and use the unique aspects of this space to
positive and dramatic effect. This project has since informed many of our conversations with
artists who, like Longshaw, are inspired by the space and are keen to create new work which
reflects its unique architectural qualities. Concentrating exclusively on The Promenade,
Transformations therefore seeks to continue the success of the Spotlight programme in
providing opportunities for artists to develop new work but this time within the context of the
space itself. Transformations acknowledges that in order to do this artists will need more
time, funding and support to research, develop and realise their ideas and ambitions. We
would also require additional funding in order to attract mid-career artists to the programme
and give them the freedom and flexibility to work differently in such an expansive space.
We feel the challenging nature of The Promenade presents an ideal career opportunity for
mid-career artists who are keen to explore something new in their practice. In order to ensure
that we find the right candidates we would like to extend this opportunity to as many artists
as possible through a widely publicised open submission process increasing the geographic
scope to include regions beyond the North-West (excluding London).
In addition to the Head of Galleries and the Galleries Exhibition Programmer, we would also
seek to include independent curator David Thorp (formerly Director of the South London
Gallery and Curator of Contemporary Projects at the Henry Moore Foundation) and artist
Richard Wilson (twice nominated for the Turner Prize and highly acclaimed internationally for
his installations), on the selection panel. Initial discussions with both David Thorp and
Richard Wilson have already taken place.
We would also like to use this programme to provide professional opportunities for young
curators. The Lowry regularly receives requests from young curators who are keen to gain
experience working with artists in a large-scale gallery setting. The Lowry recognises that
despite the emergence of graduate courses in curatorial studies there are limited
opportunities for young and emerging curators to develop and hone their skills within a
professional context outside university. Mentored by The Lowry team, three young curators
(one per year) would be given the chance to work on every stage of the commissions from
selection to production. Transformations would therefore provide a unique opportunity for a
young curator to experience the full curatorial “experience” from the start of a project through
to its realization. As part of their work on the programme, the young curators will be asked to
write an evaluation about their experiences. These evaluations will be made available on the
Lowry website and as articles in professional publications.
3. The Programme
Transformations will result in three major site-specific commissions for The Promenade.
The programme will cover a three-year period starting with the first commission in Autumn
2006 and ending with the last in Autumn 2009. The funding will provide each of the
successful mid-career artists with a substantial materials budget and the financial support to
carry out research, development, and produce new site-specific work that responds to the
unique architectural qualities of The Promenade. The artists will be challenged to develop
new approaches to their work because of the special and unusual nature of the gallery
The programme will allow us to support the artists by providing access to two highly qualified
technicians over the installation period and the process will also result in a catalogue and film
that will contextualise the development of the exhibition. This will provide them with the
necessary tools to gain further commissions and exhibitions, exploring their new approach to
their practice in other galleries and venues. In addition, the Exhibition Programmer will work
closely with the artists, as will the curator-interns.
The successful artists will be selected because of the quality and nature of their previous
work, their level of experience, their ideas for site-specific work on The Promenade and their
arguments for taking a new approach to their practice at this particular stage in their career.
Each commission will be subject to the following process and approximate timescales:
The selection panel
Confirming invited members for the selection panel - David Thorp and Richard Wilson.
Please note that provisional agreement has already been gained.
By August 2006 – The selection panel will be same for each of the three commissions.
Appoint a designer and filmmaker
A designer and filmmaker will be appointed to work on the catalogue and film to accompany
the commissions. They will be contracted to work closely with the commissioned artists to
document the research, development and production stages of their work.
December 2006 –The designer and filmmaker will be the same for each of the commissions.
Advertising the commissions
The commissions will be advertised each year to as wide a circulation as possible including
advertisements in the main arts publications (e.g. Art Monthly and Artists’ Newsletter).
Further information would also be available for download on The Lowry website. It is hoped
that each new commission would also attract further interest for the next.
January 2007 – Commission 1
January 2008 – Commission 2
January 2009 – Commission 3
Advertising the internships for young curators
The above process will also apply to finding each of the three young curators although our
marketing will also target final year students on courses in curatorial studies. Please note
that we have already made links with the Arts and Museums Management Course at Salford
January 2007 – Commission 1
January 2008 – Commission 2
January 2009 – Commission 3
Applications for internships
Young curators interested in the internships will be provided with more information and asked
to submit a CV with details of education, training and any relevant experience. They will also
be asked to write a covering letter explaining what the internship would mean to them.
March 2007 – Internship 1
March 2008 – Internship 2
March 2009 – Internship 3
Selection for internships
The successful applicant will be selected by Lindsay Brooks (Head of Galleries) and Mark
Doyle (Galleries Exhibition Programmer) prior to the selection for the commission. This will
mean that they would be able to sit on the selection panel.
April 2007 – Internship 1
April 2008 – Internship 2
April 2009 – Internship 3
Applications for commissions
Interested artists will be provided with more information about the commissions and high
quality installation shots of The Promenade. They will be asked to submit a proposal which
includes evidence (CV’s, images, publications etc) that they are mid-career i.e. they have
successfully produced and exhibited bodies of work, and provide a written statement
outlining their initial response to the space and how they feel the commission will benefit their
April 2007– Commission 1
April 2008 – Commission 2
April 2009 – Commission 3
Selection for commissions
The selection panel will meet to discuss the applications and select the successful artist. In
addition to members of the Lowry team this panel will include David Thorp, Richard Wilson
and the young curator on the internship.
May 2007 – Commission 1
May 2008 – Commission 2
May 2009 – Commission 3
Research and development
The successful artist will work closely with the Lowry team (Head of Galleries, Galleries
Exhibition Programmer, Exhibitions Programmer, Visual Arts Technician and the young
curator on internship) to research and develop their ideas. This period will span six months
and be accompanied by regular meetings and progress reports. The artists will be supported
by the Lowry team and given full access to our workshop facilities.
June – November 2007 – Commission 1
June - November 2008 – Commission 2
June - November 2009 – Commission 3
The artist will have a two-week period to install their work on The Promenade. In addition to
the Lowry team, two highly qualified technicians will support this installation.
December 2007/ Early January 2008 – Commission 1
December 2008/ Early January 2009 – Commission 2
December 2009/ Early January 2010 – Commission 3
The final installation will be launched with a private view and we will use this as an
opportunity to invite other artists and arts professionals to see the results of the programme.
The installation will be displayed for a 4-month period.
January - April 2008 – Commission 1
January - April 2009 – Commission 2
January – April 2010 – Commission 3
Review meetings will be held at the end of each commission. The strengths and weaknesses
of the process will be identified with the lessons learnt fed back into the planning process for
the next. In order to inform this process evaluation reports will be requested from the artists
and the young curators on the internships. This evaluation will form the basis of any future
information disseminated to other arts professionals through articles and conference papers.
4. Aims and objectives
The aims and objectives of this programme are:
Aim – To build on the conclusions drawn from the Spotlight Programme
To shift the focus of the commissions to site-specific work.
To provide the resources necessary to create site-specific work for a large and
To change to an open submission approach for finding artists and convene an
experienced selection panel.
To highlight the potential of The Promenade as an inspirational space for site-specific
Aim - To continue to support contemporary artists and commission new work
To provide funding for three new site-specific commissions.
To provide technical and curatorial support to the artists.
To target mid-career artists and encourage them to develop new approaches to their
To provide them with documentation (film and catalogue) which contextualises their
development and provides them with the tools to gain further commissions and
Aim – To share knowledge and experience with other arts professionals
To produce a catalogue and film for distribution.
To evaluate the results of this programme and make them available via articles, reports
and conference papers.
To provide internships for three young curators.
The main beneficiaries of the programme will be:
Three mid-career artists.
Three young/emerging curators.
Art professionals and organisations with ambitions to embark on similar programmes.
6. Attracting and involving beneficiaries
Our experiences so far and feedback from artists visiting The Lowry galleries, indicate that
The Promenade is an inspirational space which presents a rare opportunity for artists to
experiment and which encourages them to test new approaches. This - combined with the
level of funding and support which would be on offer - makes us confident that the
commissions will attract considerable interest from mid-career artists. The commissions will
be advertised nationally through art publications and also on the Lowry website. Our press
department will also aim to attract substantial press and media coverage to help disseminate
knowledge about the commissions. The briefs for the commissions will clearly communicate
the fact that we are looking for mid-career artists and request supporting evidence. The
presence of a high profile artist and curator/commissioner on the selection panel will also
lend credibility to the programme and help generate greater interest within the wider artistic
The high level of requests we receive for work experience indicates that there is a high
demand for this kind of curatorial opportunity. Involvement in this programme will provide any
young curator with invaluable experience and hopefully increase their chances of finding
work in an increasingly competitive industry. The opportunities will be advertised in exactly
same way as the commissions, but we will also forward information to bodies offering
professional qualifications and target final year students, particularly those from Salford
University’s Arts and Museums Management Course.
Art professionals with ambitions to embark on similar programmes
We are committed to sharing the experiences of the programme with other arts
professionals. All the artists and young curators will be asked to write evaluation reports, as
well as keeping informal journals of their experience. These reports will be made available on
the Lowry website. Articles based on the conclusions in these reports will also be submitted
for inclusion in leading art publications. We would also commission a catalogue and films
documenting the development of each commission. These films will exist as a tool for the
artists to secure future commissions but will also be distributed nationally to other art
professionals. We will actively seek out opportunities to speak about the programme at
7. Supervision and Management
The commissions will be completed by the selected artists, supported, managed and
supervised by the Lowry team through regular meetings during the six month research and
development phase. The Lowry team will consist of the following members:
Lindsay Brooks (Head of Galleries)
Tasks – selection, project management, artist support, commissioning and overseeing
design and production of documentary catalogue.
Mark Doyle (Galleries Exhibition Programmer)
Tasks- selection, project management, budgets, artist support, managing/supervising the
work of the young curators, commissioning and monitoring production of documentary film.
Rosie Grieve (Exhibitions Co-ordinator)
Task - technical support and assistance.
Chris Bowler (Visual Arts Technician)
Task - technical support and assistance.
In addition to the above, the programme will also be supported by the following:
David Thorp (Independent Curator) and Richard Wilson (Artist)
Task - selection
Young curator awarded internship
Tasks – Under the supervision of Mark Doyle (Galleries Exhibition Programmer) assist with
every stage of a commission from selection to production. They will also be requested to
produce an evaluation report.
Rita Mulvey (Head of Marketing – The Lowry)
Tasks – overseeing marketing and press/media coverage.
Objective area Outcomes / Outputs Monitoring mechanisms
To shift the focus of the The creation of three major Gathering qualitative
commissions to site- exhibitions that work to feedback from visitors, artists
specific work enhance the unique qualities of and arts professionals via
the Promenade Gallery questionnaires and one to
one meetings about the
quality and impact of the
To provide the The production of exhibitions Holding regular meetings
resources necessary to that match the artistic between the artists and the
create site-specific aspirations of the individual curatorial team to review
work for a large and artists and the curatorial team budgets against expectations
challenging space and that are not curbed by
To change to an open The submission of a large Monitoring the number of
submission approach number of proposals from submissions and evaluating
for finding artists and highly talented, mid-career their overall quality by the
convene an artists who have been attracted selection panel and curatorial
experienced selection by the open submission team
panel. approach and by the stature of
the selection panel
Objective area Outcomes / Outputs Monitoring mechanisms
To highlight the An increased interest in the Monitoring the number of
potential of The Promenade as an exhibition enquiries about possible
Promenade as an space for site-specific work exhibitions on the Promenade
inspirational space for from high profile contemporary from high profile
site-specific work. artists in general contemporary artists, agents
To provide funding for The completion of three, The Galleries Exhibition
three new site-specific successful site-specific Programmer to monitor
commissions. exhibitions budgets and the progress of
the work with the artists on a
To provide technical The three commissioned artists The Galleries Exhibition
and curatorial support feel confident and supported Programmer to speak / meet
to the artists. throughout - from commission with the artists on a weekly
to exhibition basis to assess their needs
and their satisfaction levels
To target mid-career The creation of three Monitoring responses in the
artists and encourage exhibitions which mark a press from critics and
them to develop new significant departure from the gathering qualitative
approaches to their artists’ existing bodies of work / feedback from artists and arts
practice. previous exhibition content professionals about the
artists’ change in direction
To provide the artists The development of three Monitoring the number and
with documentation professional and engaging films type of exhibitions offered to
(film and catalogue) and catalogues, documenting the artists as a result of the
that contextualises their the project and directly resulting documentation created.
development and in further commissions at other Gathering feedback from
provides them with the galleries / venues. other galleries / venues about
tools to gain further the documentation developed
commissions and as part of the project.
To produce a catalogue See above See above
and film for distribution.
To make the results of Galleries across the UK who Requesting feedback on
this programme need to make best use of whether the outcomes of the
available via articles, unusual and challenging gallery project have affected other
reports and conference spaces will use organisation’s exhibition
papers. Transformations as a case planning, from galleries’
study to work from, to ensure professionals across the UK -
that they maximize the spaces via professional bodies and
available to them. through direct mail /
Objective area Outcomes / Outputs Monitoring mechanisms
To provide internships Three young curators are able Monitoring the career
for three young to secure further work in their progression of the young
curators. field as a result of the curators involved by
experience gained through the requesting regular email
project updates from them after their
internship has come to an
9. Sharing our work with others
At the end of each project year, the Exhibitions Programmer will bring together all the
evaluation results, journals and reports from all project participants and create an overall
evaluation document. This will be circulated to funding bodies including the local authority,
Arts Council England North West and (subject to the outcome of this application) to the
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. In addition to this we aim to:
Distribute the artists’ films and catalogues to galleries across the UK
Submit the artists’ journals for publication e.g. Art Monthly, Artists’ Newsletter and
Present the project findings and outcomes at conferences and seminars for
professional bodies e.g. Museums, Libraries and Archives North West, Museums
10. Transformations from 2009
We hope to continue with the Transformations programme from 2009 informed by the
lessons learnt from 2006-2009. However, the costly nature of this scheme relies on external
funding and as such The Lowry would need to seek additional funds to continue. Research
into possible for funding for 2009-2012 would begin at the end of 2007 (after the first year of
the programme has been realised).
11. Financial Information
Expenditure (per commission)
Research and development – 40 days @ £150 per day £6,000
Installation – 10 days (2 working weeks) @ £150 per day £1,500
De-installation – 5 days @ £150 per day £750
(this figure is substantial to accommodate the challenges of the space
i.e. its– size and possible need for specialist equipment)
(to cover travel, accommodation etc)
Selection Panel (based on two invited panel members):
Accommodation for two nights @ £100 per night x 2 £400
Expenses (Food etc) @ £200 each x 2 £400
Travel @ £200 each x 2 £400
Advertising (Young Curator & Commission) £1,000
Print publicity (leaflet advertising commissions and gallery guide) £3,000
Launch/Private View £1,500
Subtotal £5,500 (Lowry)
Fee = 4 days a month for 9 months @ £50 per day £1,800
(to cover transport etc)
10 days filming @ £150 per day £1,500
10 days editing @ £150 per day £1,500
Design and Print £5,000
2 x Gallery Technicians 70 hours each (10 days) @ £7.88 per hour £1103.02
Subtotal £1103.02 (Lowry)
Professional time (The Lowry Team)
36 days supervision of young curator @ £200 per day £7,200
20 days technical support (Rosie Grieve & Chris Bowler) @ £200 per day £4,000
20 days curatorial support/project management @ £200 per day £4,000
(Mark Doyle & Lindsay Brooks)
15 days marketing @ £200 per day £3,000
Subtotal £18,200 (Lowry)
Contingency (approx 10%) £6,000 (Lowry)
Total Expenditure (per commission) £64,053.02
Total Expenditure (over 3 years) £192,159.06
Income (per commission)
Contribution from The Lowry £30,803.02
Amount requested from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation £33,250
Total amount committed from The Lowry (over 3 years) £92,409.06
Total amount requested from Esmee Fairbairn Fdn (over 3 years) £99,750