Catalyst main

Cumbria call for three UK artists to take up creative residencies in the county for a year

Poets, visual and digital artists, writers, theatre and film makers and composers from across the UK are being invited to take up creative residencies in the North West.

Catalyst, a project funded by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, will see three artists spend a year in Cumbria, the county that inspired Wordsworth, Ruskin, Percy Kelly and Conrad Atkinson and has produced artists for generations.

The chosen few will each receive £25,000 to support them while they create a substantial new piece of work or artistic event contributing to the thriving artistic community that exists across the county.

Diverse artist Maddi Nicholson, Co-Founder and Director of Barrow’s Art Gene, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for artists. I know because I came to the county in 1990 for a one-year residency and was so intrigued I stayed.”

Now heading up Art Council England’s ‘Real Barrow’ connecting people and communities with place her large scale works have clad castles, London tower blocks and the city’s  iconic OXO building, town halls and vehicles ranging from a Norwegian passenger ferry to double decker buses and trucks.

Maddi said: “Cumbria got under my skin. I live and work in a place that could be considered to be the periphery but it is far from that. The perspective here is more interesting, you could say it is the raw truth and I know artists will be drawn to that.

“The brief is wide. All we ask is  that it should respond to modern-day Cumbria, its diverse industries, landscapes, and issues of communities. The work will raise the visibility and profile of Cumbria as a unique, innovative, and creative place to live, work, visit and develop a creative career.”

The first of its kind project is being delivered by Art Gene in partnership with Cumbria Arts and Culture Network and the University of Cumbria.

Jo Lappin, Chief Executive of Cumbria LEP, said: “The LEP recognises and appreciates the importance of  culture, heritage and arts in place making and place shaping and we formed a Creative and Cultural Sector Panel some time ago to support the future development of the sector.

“Outside of the county people's view of Cumbria is framed by their own experience, be it the rolling hills of the Lake District, farming, our nuclear expertise at Sellafield or building submarines in Barrow. Cumbria is all of these things and more and the purpose of these residencies is to promote the entirety of the county, its nature, industry and heritage by creating a great piece of art or new experience. Cumbria is at the Heart of the UK and we want to demonstrate what an accessible, welcoming, and great place it is for culture.

She added: “We want artists from anywhere in the UK to come and see for themselves and interpret Cumbria in whatever way they wish.”

An exciting career-enhancing opportunity for early-or mid-career artists to live and work in the county, the Catalyst residencies will run from May until February 2025. 

Dr Colette Conroy, from the University of Cumbria’s Institute of Education, Arts and Society said: “We are looking for art that celebrates Cumbria as a place and that interprets and explores what is uniquely different and distinctive about it. We welcome ideas that disrupt and inspire, make people sit up and take notice of Cumbria, or that catalyse and unlock new opportunities.”

The three artists will be supported by, and have the opportunity to collaborate with, a network of cultural organisations that are already embedded and thrive in Cumbria. 

Chair of Cumbria Arts and Culture Network (CACN), Kate Parry, said: “Cumbria is an exciting place for creative practice. At CACN we are really looking forward to supporting the commissioned artists to make the best of the opportunity. We are standing by to share what the artists are creating and learning with others across our sector and beyond.”

As well as collaborating with one another, each artist will be assigned a lead contact and an artist mentor as sources of additional advice and support.

For more information and to apply before the deadline of 3 March please visit


Notes to editors

Contact for further details about Catalyst: Creative Residencies in Cumbria:

Maddi Nicholson (Art Gene): 07769 915631 // Kate Parry (Cumbria Arts and Culture Network): 07884 386206 // Laura Bell (Cumbria LEP): 07912 550867.

Notes to Editors

Catalyst: Creative Residencies in Cumbria is funded by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) and led by three members of the CLEP Cultural Panel – the University of Cumbria, Cumbria Arts and Culture Network (CACN) and Art Gene.

Art Gene is an artist-led research and production charity based in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. Our focus is regenerating the social, natural, and built environment through visual arts practice, working collaboratively with communities, artists, architects, and other professionals.

Cumbria Arts and Culture Network exists to connect, champion, and develop the culture sector in Cumbria. We work to create a joined-up, inclusive cultural ecology, enabling organisations and individual creatives to collaborate effectively. We build skills through a programme of training, development, and mentoring opportunities. We advocate for and promote creative and cultural activity across the county.

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) is one of 38 across England. It provides a strategic lead on activities contributing to the county’s economic growth. Working with public and private sector-led partners, we’re investing £60.3m in Cumbria’s local economy. Our projects and investment packages are creating and safeguarding jobs, providing modern new business space and levering in millions of additional private sector investment. Cumbria LEP is responsible for the county’s Strategic Economic Plan which focuses on four core priorities; advanced manufacturing growth, nuclear and energy excellence, a vibrant rural and visitor economy and strategic connectivity of the M6 corridor.