Associates Programme

In response to Covid-19, the Associates Programme is currently being delivered both online and on site, via a blended approach of remote and in person learning.

Applications for the Associates Programme are now closed. The next round will open in November 2021. 

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.


2019 Associates & public; workshop by Cynthia Lawrence-John & Rhys Ellis.
Credit: Dik Ng

Programme overview

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;
  • Weekly tuition and mentorship from internationally renowned practitioners, theorists and curators;
  • 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, research or initiate a project.

The Associates come together two days a week (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, many of which are open to the public. 

2020 Associates and performer Felix Abloh on the set of ‘La Poupe’, their collaborative film with Anthea Hamilton.
Credit: Nadira Amrani

Term structure

The Associates programme is structured around three terms:

  • Term 1 at OSE is about immersion through a collective learning project. In 2021, we will be working with Jane Hall and Anthony Engi Meacock of architecture collective Assemble. The rest of the term will be programmed around a variety of workshops and a reading group led by the OSE mentors and a range of guests invited to present their practice and methodologies. Entitled ‘Who Cares? Care, Caretaker, Maintenance, Stewardship’, Assemble’s curriculum questions what an architecture of care would look like. Open School East has recently moved into its new home, a four-storey building on Hawley Square in Margate. With a new cohort of students inhabiting the space each year, the building is in many ways a participant in the making of the work that is produced within. The eclectic, domestic spaces provide an intimate setting for individual art practice yet also create a challenging environment for the production of art alongside and in collaboration with others. In reorienting the concept of maintenance through simple acts of care for the building, how could we begin to participate in an ongoing, caring relationship with the artists with whom we share the space today but also those that will follow tomorrow? Together we will test changes to the material fabric of the building to observe how a culture of repair inscribes the social and political culture at the centre of a school built on relationships rather than objects. As we assert our rights as individuals to the studio, the room, the level, the building and the garden, we will question what kinds of activities it is appropriate to take on, and in turn investigate a wider set of responsibilities as collective stewards of the city and by extension, the planet.
  • Term 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 geared towards film, performance and radio; artist, theorist and other specialist-led tours in unconventional locations; and short courses in electronics, ceramics and music production.
  • Throughout the year, the Associates meet their mentors individually to discuss their work, research and ideas, both in general and in preparation for an open day mid-way through the year and a final exhibition at the end of their time at OSE.
2018 Associates as part of a forest workshop with Matthew Darbyshire.

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.

While at OSE, the Associates share their practice via open events at different times throughout the year, and develop new work to be presented at a final group exhibition and events series. 

Former Associates continue to work collaboratively and programme events and projects at OSE, engaging in dialogue with the current Associates and forming a growing alumni community.

Performance by 2019 Associates Elouise Farley and Rhona Foster.
Credit: Rob Harris

The Mentors

The mentors provide one-to-one support 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 2021-22 are: Clair Le Couteur, Benedict Drew, Anthea Hamilton, Paul Maheke, Melika Ngombe Kolongo, Sally O’Reilly.

Previous mentors were: åbäke, Matthew Darbyshire, Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar (The Otolith Group), Marguerite Humeau, Janna Graham, Sophie Mallet, Sarah McCrory, John Douglas Millar, Tom Morton, Olivia Plender, Marijke Steedman, Trish Scott, Ed Webb-Ingall.

Mentor Benedict Drew, Spelunking Weekend, 2017.

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 the space fully accessible in the coming 18 months. In the meantime, we are committed to providing alternative solutions to enable full participation.

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.


Selection, application and requirements

Each year we form a group of approximately 13 Associates from a diverse range of practices and backgrounds. We are interested in creating a pluridisciplinary environment where everyone supports and learns from each other. As such welcome artists, makers, producers, researchers and writers who seek to interact with people from other disciplines. 

At Open School East, we are committed to improving the diversity of our organisation as a whole and building inclusive cultures every day. Therefore we encourage and welcome applicants from all backgrounds and sections of the community, both with and without formal training. 

Prospective Associates are 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 as well as individually, be self-directed and interact with members of the public at different moments. 

Please note we take applications from individuals only.

We recommend that successful applicants relocate to Margate. We are able to help with finding accommodation and employment.