Open School East: 2022-23 call for Associate artists

Art school students sit on chairs in a large circle on a green grass public space under trees

Deadline for applications: Sunday 29 May 2022, 12pm GMT
Open day: Tuesday 3 May 2022, 10-5pm book here
Open day Zoom: Wednesday 4 May, 6-7pm book here

We are seeking applications from emerging artists, makers,  producers, researchers and writers of all generations to join the tenth year of Open School East’s independent, self-directed and outward-facing development programme. 

As an organisation committed to anti-racism, LGBTQIA+ rights and neuro-inclusion, we particularly welcome applications from individuals who identify with this ethos.

Link to our online open day with Passcode: 8XjE9Vw^

About Open School East

Established in 2013 and located in the coastal town of Margate, Open School East is a free, independent art school that focuses on collective learning through the arts and community partnerships. We support cultural practitioners at an early stage of their career to develop and sustain their practice, and enable young people and adults alike to learn new and transferable skills, develop their confidence and shape their creative voice by becoming active learners and co-producers of OSE’s programmes. 

Our learning and development programmes are:

  • The Associates Programme: a part-time, year-long development programme for emerging adult artists and cultural practitioners from diverse backgrounds; 
  • The Young Associates Programme: a free, 10 month art and creative careers programme for young people aged 18-21 living in the Thanet area
  • The Despacito Art School: An arts programme for 5 to 12 year olds and their families from Cliftonville, Margate, working with invited artists to develop art projects and works together
  • The Public Programme: a multifaceted programme of events, activities and short courses run by Associates and invited practitioners, these are promoted publicly and open to everyone to sign up to and attend.

Open School East is committed to making the arts a more open sector and to enabling meaningful cultural and social exchanges between artists, local communities and the broader public. We do this by making our programmes entirely free of charge and opening them outwards, responding to our locality and embedding them in the places we live and work in through community and cultural partnerships, providing an informal and welcoming environment for the development and sharing of knowledge and skills across all communities and generations.

Installation view The Art of Death 2.0 Poppy Nash

Associates Programme overview

The Associates Programme is a free development programme offering a critical, informal and non-competitive environment in which to develop your practice and expand your networks. The programme is run according to principles of collaboration, experimentation and openness, and welcomes those who engage with these notions in different ways.

The Associates Programme runs for a year and is principally self-directed, creating platforms to experiment and meet long-lasting collaborators and peers.

We provide the Associates with:

  • A shared workspace, accessible 24/7;
  • Opportunity to develop education workshops and events with and for the wider school through our Young Associates and Despacito Art School;
  • Weekly tuition and mentorship from internationally renowned practitioners, theorists and curators;
  • Throughout the year Associates meet and work with invited guest artists, curators and other creative professionals;
  • The tools and means to conceive and deliver a public programme of workshops and events around your practice and shared interests;
  • Opportunities to showcase work;
  • Critical, pastoral and practical support;
  • Seed-funding to develop and create an end of year exhibition;
  • Continued support and opportunities for OSE Alumni

The Associates must commit to the scheduled two days a week timetable (Mondays and Tuesdays) to receive tuition, meet their mentors, plan public activities and collaborate on projects. Tuition is delivered through a combination of workshops, seminars, group crits, excursions and reading groups, some of which are open to the public.


The Associates Programme is structured around three terms: 

  • Term 1 starts with an introductory week through a group project, introductions to one another, Margate and the school itself including staff and Young Associates. In Term 1 Associates will be introduced to mentors and their practices through group workshops and artist talks. The main focus for Term 1 is a collective learning project. In 2022, we will be working with the artist Saelia Aparicio. 
  • Entitled ‘When The World Looks Back At You: about storytelling, ecology and the weird’, artist Saelia Aparicio will form a curriculum that explores and thinks about their figure of the hybrid, a recurring form for exploration on the themes, experiences and perspectives on natural environments and the anthropocene, counter culture and science fiction, biomimicry, fluidity, organisms and ecosystems explored in a cross disciplinary practice. The hybrid is a representation of complexity and of the unexpected that moves beyond the confines of binary language and terminology that classifies and prescribes nature; human and other.  Associates will look at the environment as a sentient being and landscape, with empathy and consideration that becomes integrated and reflects into both Associates individual and collective art practice and production methods. Together we will explore the intertwining of both process and material through sustainable production/making through art, fashion and design approaches. We will work with diverse guests and practices to explore perspectives, experiences and histories of environment, body, science fiction and the natural world.
  • The rest of the term will be programmed around a variety of workshops including peer-led workshops and a reading group led by the OSE mentors and a range of guests invited to present their practice and methodologies. 
  • Terms 2 and 3 are largely shaped by the Associates who, working in smaller groups, self-direct their learning and invite a broad range of guests to lead public workshops and short courses. Engaging with both formal and informal pedagogical methods, the sessions Associates have programmed have ranged from writing workshops, experimental film and radio production, performance and photography and short courses in electronics, ceramics, music production. You can view our archive of events here 
  • Throughout the year Associates meet their mentors for one to one tutorials to discuss their work, research and ideas, both in general and in preparation for public events and the final show. 
  • As well as the public programme Associates hold a collective event; which often takes the form of an open studio at the end of Term 1.
  • Associates work towards an end of year exhibition and collaborate with an invited guest curator to take them through the process; alongside advice from their mentors and guidance from the OSE Director and team. You can view our 2021/22 exhibition here

The Mentors

The mentors provide one-to-one support and group sessions in the development of the Associates’ practice and projects, and lead theoretical and practical group sessions. The mentors visit regularly, once or twice a term. 

The mentors for 2022-23 include: Clair Le Couteur, Benedict Drew, Anthea Hamilton, Melika Ngombe Kolongo, Sally O’Reilly and Dr Cecilia Wee.

The Associates

Associates at Open School East are emerging practitioners of different generations, with or without a BA, MA or formal qualification, who are seeking a critical, informal and non-competitive environment in which to develop their practice. We are particularly committed to supporting applicants from under-represented backgrounds and without formal training.

You will join a group of approximately 14 Associates from a diverse range of practices and backgrounds. We are interested in creating a multidisciplinary environment and as such welcome artists, makers, producers, researchers and writers who seek to interact with people from other disciplines.

This year Open School East’s 3 Core Programmes, Associates, Young Associates and Despacito Art School will be working in response to the shared themes, questions and ideas to develop a deeper and more integrated way of co-learning and at times, collaborating together as a school community.
Former Associates continue to work collaboratively and programme events and projects at OSE, engaging in dialogue with the current Associates and forming a growing community of alumni, staff and mentors.

Students sit at outside at a making table and paint strips of paper

Space and facilities

Open School East operates from a building at 39 Hawley Square in Margate Central. The building is currently only accessible by stairs and we are working towards making a fully accessible school building in the future.
The building includes dedicated spaces for each of OSE’s programmes as well as shared studio spaces for the sole use of Associates, which are accessible 24/7. OSE has four further studios rented out to OSE alumni and tutors on a two-year rotation basis. Basic tools and AV equipment are available for Associates to use and kitchen and toilet access is shared with other learners and studio holders. 

Practical information

The Associates Programme will start on 12 September 2022 and run until 30 June 2023, with breaks in the winter (13 December 22 – 9 January 23) and in the spring (31 March 23 -9 April 2023). Tuition, project working and group meetings are concentrated on Mondays and Tuesdays (daytime and some evenings), however these might occasionally take place on other days. We will start the year with a 3-day induction week, from 12-14 September and every Associate must attend this important moment in the building of group dynamics.

Successful applicants will need to ensure that they can fully commit to OSE for the duration of the programme. As such, the Associates should not engage in residencies or other durational activities, including starting a BA or MA, while undertaking OSE’s Associates Programme.

Due to Open School East being a non-accredited programme, we regret that we are not able to sponsor visa applications for overseas Associates. 

Open School East does not grant bursaries, nor does it provide Associates with accommodation. However, our team will provide guidance on finding accommodation and employment in Margate to anyone moving to the town. We further provide guidance on life in Margate, and on local and social services and facilities.

Open Day

We encourage you, when possible, to visit both Margate and OSE first hand as part of your application process. We will hold an open day on Tuesday 3 May.

You will meet Polly Brannan, OSE Director and Natalie Ross, Deputy Director and other members of the team. See the Young Associates and guest artists preparing for their end of year exhibition. You will also meet some recent Associates who will  talk about their practice and how they situate themselves as an artist or creative practitioner after their experience at OSE.

You will have time with Associates and directors to ask any questions about the school, the curriculum and Margate.

You can book your place here

Zoom Open Evening

There will be a zoom open evening event for those who can’t visit the school in person on Wednesday 4 May 22, 6-7pm. Polly Brannan will give a presentation on the course with a previous Associate and there will be time for questions and discussion. You will meet different team members and Associates in breakout rooms so that we can keep numbers small and all your questions can be answered, while the Associates and team can tell you more about OSE. If you want to join the open evening, please sign up here to register and receive the Zoom invitation.

Application process

Please note that we take applications from individuals only.

The course is free to enable access to arts education that may not have been previously possible due to cultural barriers and/or socioeconomic factors. 

Your application can take the form of either a PDF file (max size 10mb) or a video (max duration 4 min). Whichever form you choose, please title it following this model: Firstname_Surname.pdf 

Your application should contain:

  1. A statement: tell us about you, your background, practice, artistic, theoretical and/or life interests. 
  • Why are you applying to Open School East specifically? 
  • What do you hope to gain from spending a year at OSE? 
  • How does the proposed structure and the OSE mentors relate to your interests and practice? 
  • What interests you about working with Saelia Aparicio?
  • How would you like to engage with the Young Associate and Despacito groups through your practice, research or public programming? 
  • And what would you like to bring to OSE? (Please limit your response to 700 words or  2 minute if on video.)
  1. A CV: please don’t forget to include your address, telephone number and email address (2 sides of A4 max – you can also incorporate this in the video, if that is your chosen format). 
  1. A portfolio of up to 12 pages presenting your recent work: besides images and captions, feel free to include text and links to video and sound works stored on the Internet – please do not send us wetransfer links. (If doing this part on video, please limit your response to 2,5 minutes.)
  1. A downloaded and filled in equal opportunities monitoring form available from here. This data helps us to ensure that our processes are fair and transparent, and that diverse communities are represented.

The deadline for applications is Sunday 29 May 2022, 12pm GMT and the address to send your pdf or video file to is: You will receive an automated answer confirming receipt of your application. 

Prospective Associates will be selected on the following criteria: quality of ideas and forms; a recognised need to access free and informal education; a genuine interest in being part of a group of people with different practices and experiences; a curiosity to expand one’s knowledge base and engage with a range of topics and ideas; a willingness to work collaboratively and share space with others, be self-directed and interact with members of the public at different moments.

All shortlisted applicants will hear from us on Friday 3 June to be invited for an interview between the 13 and 15 June.

Non-shortlisted applicants will also be notified on Friday 3 June. We expect a high number of applications; for this reason we are only able to give personalised feedback to applicants who are shortlisted. 

For additional questions on the application process, or if you wish to discuss your application outside of the scheduled open evening or day, you can email: and we will do our best to arrange a conversation with you. Before emailing us your questions and applying, we encourage you to have a thorough look at our website.