Associates Programme

In response to Covid-19, the Associates Programme is currently being delivered online via a variety of remote-learning platforms and tools.

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. 

Applications for the Associates Programme are closed. The next call out will be in December 2020.


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

Programme overview

The Associates Programme runs across eleven months – from February to December – 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 programme of public events, workshops and short courses around your practice and shared interests;
  • Opportunities to showcase work and carry out short residencies at local and national venues; 
  • Critical, pastoral and practical support; 
  • Opportunities for paid work helping out with the Despacito Art School and Young Associates Programmes;
  • 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 and excursions, many of which are open to the public.

Open School East is a multi-use space and resource and, as such, its common areas are utilised by a range of individuals and groups on different days of the week. Working, learning and sharing experiences and space with others is key to OSE’s ethos.

‘Smooth and Rough’, 2017, performance by Associate Emily Whitebread at OSE.

Term structure

The Associates programme is structured around three terms:

  • Term 1 at OSE is about immersion through a collective learning project. In 2020, we invited artist Anthea Hamilton to conceive and lead a bespoke curriculum which has taken the collaborative nature of her practice and the iconic figure of the sailor as starting points. For two months, the curriculum (which was relocated online) worked across scriptwriting, film production, costume making and performance, inviting a number of guest practitioners to share their approaches and methodologies. Guests included Tate curator Linsey Young, choreographer and movement director Delphine Gaborit, writer Sally O’Really, artist, filmmaker and 2019 OSE alumnus Rhona Foster, and designer René Scheibenbauer. On Saturday 26 September, Anthea Hamilton and the Associates will present La Poupe, a collaborative performance on a roving film set on Margate’s seashore.
  • In contrast, 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 events. 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 to discuss their work and research, 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, and are interested in being exposed to a range of ideas and practices. 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.

The 2020 Associates at CRATE Studio and Project Space, Margate.

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 2020 are: Clair Le Couteur, Benedict Drew, Marguerite Humeau, Paul Maheke, Sophie Mallett, Sarah McCrory, Melika Ngombe Kolongo, Sally O’Reilly, Trish Scott. 

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

Mentor Benedict Drew, Spelunking Weekend, 2017.

Space and facilities

OSE operates from 39 Hawley Square, a 5-storey, grade II listed Georgian building close to Margate’s town centre. The building features individual teaching rooms, studio spaces, a room for public events, a kitchen, toilets on each floor and a small outdoor space. The top floor holds 3 studios rented out to former Associates as well as OSE teaching faculty. Kitchen and toilet facilities are shared with our studio holders and other users of the building .

Accessible 24/7, the Associates studio gets reconfigured each year to best serve the current cohort. The studio is usually used mostly as a workshop space for hands-on work, alongside a few desk spaces for quiet work. Basic tools are stored in the studios for Associates to use.


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.