Thu 31 Oct - Sat 2 Nov 2019

We’re delighted to announce the 6 top contemporary artists who have joined the Connect! competition for 2016: your museum, gallery or heritage site could win one of them to come and lead a participatory Museums at Night event at your venue during the October festival.

Who are the Connect! 2016 artists?

The artists this year are Marcus Coates, Susan Hiller, Aowen Jin, Peter Liversidge, Karen Mirza & Brad Butler, and Bedwyr Williams. Find out more about their work, and their ideas for Connect! events here.

How does the Connect! competition work?

Connect! is a public vote to choose which six UK cultural venues will win a top contemporary artist to lead their Museums at Night October event, along with a £3000 bursary. Up to five venues will compete to win each artist, and the polls will result in each artist leading a participatory event at their winning venue. The process by which we get to the events spans seven stages:

  1. Each artist participating in the project provides a statement for the website outlining in general terms the kind of event they would like to conduct
  2. An open call goes out to all cultural venues on the Culture24 network to respond to one of the artists’ statements with an individual idea for an event which brings out a connection between the venue’s collection and spaces and the artist’s practice
  3. These venue submissions are shown to the artist, who picks their top five to go ahead to the competition.
  4. The competition goes live for two weeks in May 2016 with six polls each consisting of five venues vying for an artist
  5. The polls close, the winning venues are announced and introduced to the artists
  6. Each artist conducts a site visit to meet the venue and discuss their event
  7. The artist-led participatory event takes place during Museums at Night in October 2016

The public vote offers a great audience development outreach opportunity to communicate with your local community and media, inviting them to cast online votes to bring your chosen artist to your town. In 2015, over 35,000 members of the public voted to win an artist for their town or city.

All venues that participate in the public vote will receive a bursary to support their Museums at Night October event, enabling ambitious and creative event programming. One venue commented, “Smaller venues can host bigger names through this campaign and also take a risk that normally they couldn’t because of money”. Winning venues will need to provide match funding of £830, which can be in kind: in previous years, most organisations did this with staff and volunteer time alone.

Place in competition Connect! event bursary your organisation will receive

Match funding required

(can be in kind)


£3000 £830






5th £100

Nick Stockman, Culture24 Campaigns Manager, said:

I’m so pleased we have an absolutely brilliant crop of artists for next year’s edition of the Connect! competition. Taken in the round, they are the most diverse collection of contemporary artists ever to pick up the Connect! gauntlet and each one is going to approach the challenge of participatory art in their own unique way.


Connect! is open to all UK museums, galleries and heritage sites and I particularly look forward to seeing event proposals from venues that haven’t submitted ideas in previous years: they have until early March 2016 to do so. The venues that go on to win will gain £3,000 in prize money and a hugely rewarding experience.

A venue’s perspective: In this video resource, Rebecca Jacobs shares the William Morris Gallery’s experience of applying for, winning and working with 2014 Connect! artist Mr Smith.

An artist’s perspective: artists Davy & Kristin McGuire took part in the 2015 Connect! competition, and in this video resource Kristin McGuire explains why they selected the venues to go through to the public voting stage, and how they developed their event concept with the organisation that won them, the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum.

Connect! is funded by Arts Council England to support venues to try something different to attract new audiences.

Resources to download

Connect! resource pack for venues (8 page PDF)
Connect! 2016 artists’ statements (2 page PDF)
Example of a 100 word event submission statement (1 page PDF)
Connect! 2016 application form questions (1 page PDF)
Connect! terms & conditions for venues (4 page PDF)
Connect! project outline (1 page PDF) – useful for explaining the idea to stakeholders

Download all of these resources in one ZIP file here.

Your next steps

Download the resources, and discuss with your team which artist you’d like to apply for and what type of event you’d run with them.

Complete the Event Submission Form by Friday 18 March.

Competing venues will be announced on Friday 8 April, and the public vote will be open from Friday April 29 – Saturday May 14.

If you have any questions, please contact Rosie or Nick on 01273 623266: we’re here to help!

More resources:



Thu 31 Oct - Sat 2 Nov 2019