Mat Wright

Open call for contemporary visual artists, curators, and creative writers from Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha and Wuhan.

The British Council and esea contemporary are excited to announce a dynamic week-long programme of artistic exchange taking place from 26 June – 2 July 2023 in Greater Manchester, open to applicants from partner cities across China, including Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha and Wuhan.

Funded and supported by the British Council, hosted by esea contemporary in partnership with the Manchester Network for Cultural Collaboration with China (MANCCC), ‘Reconnecting: Artmaking and Mobility’ will regenerate network-to-network, peer-to-peer exchanges between creative practitioners and organisations from across Greater Manchester and China. Participants will experience Manchester as a city which facilitates multicultural interactions and diverse modes of artmaking through a vibrant and tailored programme of cultural activities. And the cities of Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha and Wuhan are identified as key partners in rebuilding connections through culture to Manchester.

The opportunity

Ten grantees in total will each receive a £2,000 project development grant for material costs, production fees, and travel costs to and from Manchester to support their participation.

During the participants’ stay, esea contemporary will organise excursions to Manchester’s arts and heritage organisations during an exciting time in the city’s cultural calendar. The programme will also include a public event at esea contemporary, where participants will showcase their work and give insights into their practice to local audiences. Participants will be encouraged to share knowledge and ideas while exploring new questions and perspectives on the topic of artmaking and mobility in a post-pandemic world. 

Grantees’ accommodation arrangements will be organised directly by esea contemporary.

Some equipment and materials may be covered with esea contemporary’s core resources, subject to the applicants’ proposals. Applications which are sustainably resourced in terms of material use are particularly encouraged. 

Programme timeline

  • Application deadline: 20 March, 9am GMT/ 5pm CST
  • Interviews with shortlisted applicants: week beginning 27 March, from 9am GMT/ 5pm CST
  • Successful applicants be notified: by 10 April
  • Programme dates: 26 June – 2 July


Applicants must be individuals based in mainland China and hold valid Chinese passports. Applicants must either be based in, or have a practice which is relevant to, our partner cities Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha, and Wuhan. 

Individual applicants working with visual arts and/or creative writing disciplines may apply, including but not limited to: contemporary visual artists, curators, writers, poets, and cultural leaders of visual arts / literary organisations based in the identified partner cities, including those with strong ties to the identified partner cities. 

Disciplines outside of contemporary visual arts and creative writing will not be considered for this open call. Proficiency in spoken and written English is required. 

Applicants will share the outcome of their initial proposal after the programme’s conclusion. Applications must indicate a suggested format for the public presentation of the work and its process, relating to Manchester’s profile as a creative city. 

How to apply

Applications must be in English and the application deadline is 20 March, 9am Greenwich Meridian Time / 5pm China Standard Time.

We will ask applicants to prepare a project proposal, professional portfolio, and a budget plan. Applicants will be asked to outline their research and/or creative interests and indicate what they wish to learn and engage with in Greater Manchester. 

The project proposal should fulfil the following requirements on no more than a single A4 page, minimum size 11 font:

  • Demonstrate existing connections with the identified partner cities in China, and/or practice/research related to them.
  • Identify potential partners, institutions, and/or collections in Greater Manchester for the proposed project.
  • Use, discuss, and/or develop innovative contemporary art and/or writing practices as part of their discipline.
  • Outline a format for the public showcase. This may be in the form of a presentation, workshop, performance, or any other activity suitable as a public engagement.

The professional portfolio should include a single-page CV, and can include links to a website or up to 3 images/videos of work. 

We expect the budget plan in a single spreadsheet, to include costs such as, but not limited to: project development; material costs; travel and transport; digital documentation; and logistical and administrative travel needs. Please also indicate any additional funding and contributions supplementing the project development grant which may be used to support your application and total costs.

Incomplete or late applications will be void and not considered. 

Please email your proposal to programme@eseacontemporary.org, subject ‘Artmaking and Mobility Open Call’, with all documents and materials in one zipped compressed folder.

A panel of members from British Council, esea contemporary’s team and its Artistic Advisory Panel, and MANCCC will select the grantees.

All successful candidates will be confirmed by 7 April.

Support / Accessibility

We welcome and encourage applications from candidates who may require additional support for access. 

In their project proposal, applicants can outline the access support required for their activity. This section of the proposal will not count towards the application’s page limit. If needed, please also detail in the budget spreadsheet access support costs in addition to the project budget.

Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion

esea contemporary is committed to inclusivity and developing equitable practice. We encourage diversity and value the difference of perspectives and lived experience in our employment and the services that we provide. We particularly welcome applications from people who are underrepre-sented in the arts, including those from global minority backgrounds, those who identify as D/deaf, disabled, or neurodivergent, LGBTQIA+, are early in their careers, and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds or living or working in areas of socio-economic deprivation.


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About esea contemporary

esea contemporary is the UK’s only non-profit art centre specialising in presenting and platforming artists and art practices that identify with and are informed by East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) cultural backgrounds.

esea contemporary is situated in an award-winning building in the heart of Manchester, home to one of the largest East Asian populations in the UK. Since its inauguration as a community-oriented visual arts festival in 1986, esea contemporary – previously named Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) – has continuously evolved to establish itself as a dynamic and engaging space for cross-cultural exchanges in the British art scene, as well as in a global context.

esea contemporary aims to increase the visibility of contemporary art practices from the East and Southeast Asian communities and their diasporas. It is a site for forward-thinking art programmes that beyond exhibitions also include commissions, research, residencies, publishing, and a wide range of vibrant public events. esea contemporary values creativity, compassion, interconnectedness, and collectivity in implementing its mission. 

Find out more at eseacontemporary.org

About the Manchester Network for Cultural Collaboration with China

The Manchester Network for Cultural Collaboration with China (MANCCC) was established in 2019 to further and contribute to the city’s rich cultural assets in building strategic relationships with China.

For any questions and queries about the programme, application process, and access needs, applicants can contact Ella Luo, the Community Development and Engagement Manager at esea contemporary, via email at ella@eseacontemporary.org