How Not To Exclude


Some Guidelines for Institutions and Residencies

“Supporting diversity whether it be age, ethnicity, gender, lone or parental status isn’t just about being fair – it’s also about us allowing a diverse flow of experience, nuance, innovation, invention to flourish so the work, the gallery, the practice of art is as rich as it can be. Dispensation for real life needs to start to be built into all collaborations with artists.” (Melanie Jackson)

An introductory statement:

While responsibility for childcare currently falls overwhelmingly on mothers, we are using the word ‘parent’ in these guidelines in the hope that this may change.

An introductory suggestion:

Treat the artist as a whole person.

An introductory request:

Be flexible.

1. As an organisation, be explicitly welcoming to artists with families

Be breastfeeding friendly; stay in contact with artists when they become parents.

The art does not need to be family friendly, but the institution should be.

2. Make it standard practice to establish an artist’s family circumstances at the outset of a project, and have structures in place to accommodate their parenting responsibilities

It shouldn’t be left to the artist to have to ‘confess’ to being a parent, or to fear they may lose a show, commission or residency if they do so.

3. Assume that any artist parent may need to travel with their children and a partner or other caregiver, and provide for this.

4. Agree with the artist at the outset what is expected of them and when, and give enough lead time so that they can plan accordingly

Don’t make urgent last-minute requests for texts, talks, and other extras.

5. Consider having a specific budget for an artist’s childcare costs

Discuss childcare costs upfront with the artist and be clear about what you can and can’t cover.

Allow artists to invoice for that portion of their fee that they will need to spend on childcare as a direct cost so that they won’t be taxed for it as income.

6. Schedule openings and special events as convenient to artist parents

Consider options such as weekend daytime private views rather than sticking rigidly to early evenings when children need to be fed, bathed and put to bed.

7. Be aware of term dates and program around them

Offer artists who need to travel with children the option of installing a show over half term, for example.

8. Re-think or remove age limits for residencies and awards so that they become inclusive of artists whose careers have been interrupted by having and caring for children

9. Work with artists to adapt residencies to fit around their parenting needs

This may involve allowing the artist to split the residency period into more manageable sections, or supporting them through a research and development period in their own studio if they can’t travel.

10. Don’t read gaps on a CV to indicate a lack of commitment or effort

Artists’ careers come in many shapes, and are paused for many reasons, parenting among them.

Emerging artists are not always those who graduated most recently.