Recent years have exposed major gaps in career opportunities and affordable studio spaces for creatives in London, a situation further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic

The new Loewe Foundation/ Studio Voltaire award aims to increase representation, access and opportunities for artists across the capital. It will support creatives at all stages of their careers, including emerging artists, those with limited financial means and those who are marginalised or have experienced discrimination. 

The Loewe Foundation was developed in 1988 by Enrique Loewe, a fourth-generation member of the fashion brand’s founding family. Since then, it has championed creativity across disciplines, most notably through the revered Loewe Foundation Craft Prize. 

Artist’s Studio A Courtesy of Matheson Whiteley Architects
Artist’s Studio A at Studio Voltaire. Courtesy of Matheson Whiteley Architects

Not–for–profit arts organisation Studio Voltaire has cultivated a reputation for supporting artists at critical points in their careers, fuelled by a spirit of experimentation and risk-taking. It has been responsible for the UK solo debuts of myriad artists and notable participatory and offsite projects and commissions. Previous exhibiting artists have included Nairy Baghramian, Phyllida Barlow, Nnena Kalu and Henrik Olesen. 

‘This special programme is even more urgent given Covid-19’s effects on artists. The need for spaces where artists can connect and be supported is vitally important,’  says Joe Scotland, director of Studio Voltaire. ‘London has lost significant numbers of studio spaces in the last three years and it’s estimated that more than a third of existing studio spaces will vanish by 2024.’

The two-year programme will offer support to seven artists through rent-free studios within Studio Voltaire’s new Matheson Whiteleydeveloped buildings, a tailored mentoring scheme and a bursary of £2,000 for each creative. Alongside curatorial and pastoral support, the award will also offer artists access to local and global audiences through public programming.

Submissions will be received via both an open call, and through a group of dedicated ‘nominators’ including Sheryll Catto, co-director of Action Space and artist, Abbas Zahedi. Awards will be offered based on merit and need and selected by a panel of judges including Andrew Bonacina, chief curator of The Hepworth Wakefield; Sepake Angiama, artistic director of Iniva and artists Anthea Hamilton and Elizabeth Price. 

As Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe explains, ‘Supporting creativity is at the heart of all Loewe does and it is, therefore, a great privilege for the Loewe Foundation to support this vital new initiative, especially in light of the impact Covid-19 has had on the artistic community.’ 

The second phase of the award comprises a year-long residency at Studio Voltaire for an international artist, set to be announced later this year. The initiative will develop in parallel with the much-anticipated reopening of Studio Voltaire in October 2021. §