Guidance notes for residency applicants

Since the V&A's inception, supporting contemporary artists, designers, and makers has been at the heart of the museum's vision. The V&A only accepts applicants in response to an open call for applications. For each open call, we define a particular area of the collections or a specific theme or medium we would like the resident to explore.

Before you start writing an application, we recommend taking a read of the following guidance notes to see if a residency is right for you. We've also answered some frequently asked questions that might help guide your application.

What is the Adobe Creative Residency at the V&A?

The Adobe Creative Residency at the V&A is a new, fresh approach to bring making into the museum. This programme will enable the museum to employ three full-time residents, five days a week for 12 months. Each resident will work with a designated audience to bring creativity, design and making to diverse audiences. Embedded within the V&A learning team, residents will commit half their time to developing engaging programming across the V&A sites around their craft, this will include V&A South Kensington, Young V&A, and V&A East. New residents will play a key role in the expansion of the V&A's public programming efforts. Residents will also work with local communities across the UK to create a new model of programming outside the museum to build and sustain links with underserved communities. Additionally, each resident will receive studio space, mentorship, resources, access to the museum's resources and staff expertise. Their work will be featured in a six-month display at the close of their residency.

Do I have to work with the public as part of my residency?

All our residents are audience-focused. We aim for you to draw from our collections to inspire careers in the creative industries as well as future design and artistic practice. You will be expected to work actively with visitors through educational activities, as well as develop your personal practice. Each open call will identify a core audience that we’re keen for you to work with: schools, families or young people. You can see the extent of the V&A's Learning Programmes on our website. Residents will be expected to commit half their time to developing engaging programming around their craft across the V&A sites with the V&A learning team.

Residents are also required to open their studio to the public or show their work in progress to visitors in the galleries through open studio events. If you don't enjoy working with the public and are not comfortable sharing your work in progress, then this residency programme is probably not for you. However, many of our alumni comment about the value of this experience, encouraging them to become more confident and articulate in describing their work and sharing ideas with a variety of audiences.

How do I know if the residency is right for my creative practice?

Our open calls ask for specific art, design, or performance disciplines, although we sometimes might open a theme more widely to multidisciplinary practitioners. We recognise you might have an interdisciplinary approach to making, but it should be clear that your overriding practice meets the expectations of the open call.

Are you at the right stage in your career?

Our residencies are aimed at early to mid-career UK-based artists and designers who have worked independently and have substantial experience working within their discipline. The V&A is a large institution, and we want you to make the most out of your residency, so practitioners need to be self-motivated and proactive individuals with a collaborative and mature approach to their work and others.

Do I need a degree or have been to art school to apply?

Bringing wide-ranging and diverse voices into the museum is a cornerstone of the programme. As such, there are no degree requirements to make an application and we're open to hear from practitioners without formal training or conventional avenues into their career, but you do have to be 18 years or over to apply and have the legal right to work in the UK.

Can you make the commitment?

The Adobe Creative Residency is a full-time commitment for 12 months, with half of your week dedicated to developing your creative practice and half to supporting the Learning Department as a creative consultant of programmes and delivery. We recognise there will be busier periods for learning and busier periods for your practice, but it should work out to an equal split overall. We also recognise there may be the need for hybrid working at times, and we are willing to discuss your needs, but we encourage residents to embed themselves into the museum for the duration of their residency. For these residencies you will be employed by the V&A with 29 days paid holiday, plus bank holidays. There will be some weekend work for planned open studio events or to lead learning activities with time off in lieu granted for these events. You will also commit to creating a relevant piece or pieces for the residency display based on your work the V&A.

Will you sponsor a visa?

No. Unfortunately, this residency is only for people based in the UK. You must already have the legal right to work in the UK to participate in the Adobe Creative Residency at the V&A.

Do I have to be based in London?

You would need to make the full-time commitment over the 12 months of the residency. We cannot contribute to any living costs, including accommodation in central London, subsistence, and travel costs to and from your usual working location and the museum. At the V&A South Kensington, we have studio spaces that we assign to specific open calls. In our Learning Centre for Arts Education, we have two studio spaces for interdisciplinary practice, and we also have a specialist studio embedded in the Ceramics galleries. Residents can work in their studio all week (including weekends) between 07.00 – 19.00.

What is the residency display?

At the end of the 12-month residency, the cohort of three residents will show their work together in a free display at the V&A South Kensington for around 6 months. Residents are required to make a piece(s) for display based on their work at the V&A. Residents will work with curators and V&A staff to meet relevant deadlines and requirements for the display.

Do I have to purchase my own materials and equipment for the residency?

Whilst most residents might have equipment that they generally use for their day to day practice, we do have an allocated budget for residency materials and additional equipment that is allocated to the individual needs of each residency, in conversation with the residencies team.

I want to do a residency, but my medium isn't listed this year. Can I propose a residency?

The V&A is currently only recruiting for residents that are practicing in the areas of the open call. The annual open calls will be announced in the summer. Please follow V&A social media and check the residencies page for new open call announcements.

What is the application process?

Our open call process is in two stages, through the platform Award Force. Please register for an account via the link on the residencies page. This will enable you start your entry and save it in-progress until you're ready to submit before the deadline. You can also revisit and review your application until the submission deadline. At stage one, we want to find out some information about you, your creative practice, and ideas for the residency. We're also keen to hear about your skills, knowledge, and public engagement experience working with audiences. We have a series of short questions that will enable us to understand if this opportunity is right for you. We'll ask for a link to your website or online portfolio of projects relevant to this residency. Those invited to stage two, will be asked to develop a longer proposal for their residency. Successful proposals will be invited to interview. At both stages, at least two members of three V&A staff will review applications. Whilst we will be able to let you know if you have been successful or not at both stages, unfortunately, we cannot provide individual feedback to unsuccessful applications, only to those invited to interview.

Can I get feedback on my application or residency idea before I submit it?

Unfortunately we cannot advise or provide feedback on your ideas or application, but we encourage those interested to attend a residency information session ahead of applying. These are held both in-person or online during open call periods. If you'd like some inspiration for your application, please take a look at our past residencies YouTube playlist to see what work our alumni residents undertook during their residency.

What if you currently don't have any open calls? How can I find out about when they are next live?

We don't have a mailing list for open calls, so we encourage you to follow V&A social media and check the residencies page for new open call announcements.

How should I prepare an application?

Read through the open call you are interested in and have a think about whether the theme and specific audience focus is something you're interested in exploring (schools, families or young people).

Have a look on Explore the Collections. See if there are aspects you'd be interested in researching further as part of your residency.

Take a look at the Learn page to see what audiences we engage with and think about the audience specified in the open call.

If you feel the residency is right for you, then make an account onto the residencies Award Force page.

Have a read through the application questions and spend some time drafting your responses before you're happy to submit. Although the Award Force platform enables you to save and return to your application, we advise that you draft your answers on a document offline in case of any internet issues.

We ask for a link to an e-portfolio or a selection of images of your work related to the residency open Call. Be selective here and make sure you think about what works you want to share with us and how this demonstrates your suitability for the residency.

How do I find out more information about the programme and current/past residents?

For more information about our residencies, open call, open studios, news and alumni, visit our residencies page.

I have a question that is not addressed in this guidance page?

If we haven't addressed a question you may have, please feel free to email:

Header image: Vivienne’s Lace, wallpaper, designed by Vivienne Westwood, manufactured by Cole & Son Ltd., 2009, UK. Museum no. E.1477:5-2011. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London