Artists’ Residencies at Watermans

Residencies are about time and space for artists to develop work on their own terms


Watermans is a mid-scale arts centre situated on the banks of the Thames in Brentford, West London.  We have a Theatre, Cinema, Gallery, smaller Riverside Gallery, two studios and a large River Terrace Bar which is also used for more informal events. We present a year-round programme of high quality performance, digital and new media arts, and film in our venue.

The organisation aims to be inclusive to as wide a public as possible and positively seeks to engage those communities that typically do not access arts and culture. We deliver extensive learning and participation activities in the community, lead the Hounslow Creative People & Places programme, and contribute to strategic initiatives that increase engagement in the arts.

We also deliver a regular outdoor arts programme at Bell Square, the purpose-designed outdoor arts space in Hounslow town centre. The programme includes mid-scale dance, circus, theatre, music and digital installations.

You can find more information about our programme at:


Purpose of Residencies at Watermans

Residencies at Watermans aim to allow artists to research and develop their projects in a space that is safe, comfortable and welcoming.

We want to allow different ideas, knowledge and perspectives responding to our changing world to surface in a supportive environment.

The Residencies are about conception, creation and production. Artists may be researching and developing a new piece of work. They may be re-rehearsing existing work to go on tour. Or developing their professional practice without necessarily a clear, finished work in view.

Above all, Residencies are about time and space for artists to develop work on their own terms.


Developing work that is relevant to Watermans’ creative programme

Residencies at Watermans are for projects that connect to our vision, aims and values. We want to support artists whose practice complements the ethos of Watermans, and work which enhances our existing programme. We are interested in ideas that have the potential to be taken beyond the residency in a future working relationship with us.

We can provide Residencies for professional artists at all stages of their careers, working in any artform. Most Residencies to date have supported performance, digital and new media arts, and outdoor arts. However, we will not exclude a project because of its artform. Most important is the project or concept and its fit with Watermans’ programme.

Residencies can be used to develop work for adults or children, and for in-person or online audiences.

We are located in one of the most diverse areas of the country and our programme reflects this. We are particularly keen to support artists from South Asian, Polish, Black African and Caribbean backgrounds as these groups are strongly represented in our local community and have had less access to resources in the arts sector in the past. Similarly, we particularly welcome proposals from D/deaf and disabled artists.


What we can offer to artists

Principally, we offer time and space.

The venue operates year-round so we are able to offer Residencies throughout the year, whenever the different spaces are available.

There is no set duration for a Residency; it is completely flexible and responds to the artist’s needs and the stage of the project’s development. An artist may choose to come back more than once to finish a project.

Whilst most of our Residencies take place in Studio 1 or the Theatre, we will consider requests for other spaces in our building.

We offer access to our professional standard equipment and resources whenever they’re available. We will provide technical support as needed throughout the Residency. We can also support preparation for going on tour, for example supporting the development of lighting plans, recording sound or film elements of a project, etc.

Work-in-progress sharings for invited programmers or the public can be included in a Residency and Watermans will provide appropriate space and staffing for these events.

We also offer access to support from the Watermans team. Whilst artists may have access to advice elsewhere, some may value input from Watermans’ staff on topics such as marketing, pitching the project to other venues, production challenges, environmental sustainability, etc. It may just be a coffee and a chat or reading through a funding application.

Applicants are not limited to a specific geographical location; however, travel, accommodation and general living costs are the financial responsibility of the artist or company. Please note that Watermans encourages sustainable travel wherever possible.

During a Residency, artists are offered the ‘staff discount’ in our restaurant, café and bar.

The value of our support through a confirmed Residency at Watermans can be used as match funding for funding applications. We will be happy to provide a letter of support, with a valuation of the support being offered, to confirmed projects.


What we expect from artists in residence

Watermans believes that a Residency that provides an artist with time to understand, connect, get inspired or simply change their mind is just as valuable as ‘creating a show’. Whatever the focus of the Residency, though, we want to provide an opportunity for reflection on the work that has been done.

This is very flexible – we want to offer time and space, not deadlines. The Residency may, of course, have been the final stage of the project and a fully-developed performance, screening of a film or sharing of the final work at Watermans or Bell Square is scheduled. But it could equally be a moment for feedback or interaction with peers such as a sharing with Watermans’ team, invited guests or relevant programmers you want to introduce your work to. Or maybe even with the public to test whether an idea you have resonates with an audience as you imagined.

We also understand that it may not be the right stage of the project or appropriate for this. The reflection could perhaps be a moment of community engagement, a talk, sharing a blog or vlog post about what you’ve been working on, or even a dinner or a conversation.

Whatever it is, it’s just a point of closure.

We will often add basic details of residencies to our website and schedule a few social media posts about artists in residence. Sometimes, we might discuss with an artist the option of some documentation such as photos or a very short film about the residency.

And then after the Residency is completed, we will ask you to complete a short evaluation via an online form. This will help us to develop the Residencies programme and respond to the ever-changing relationship between artists, venues and presenters and the social environment.


How we select Residencies at Watermans

Residencies are selected in one of two ways.

Sometimes, they are arranged at the invitation of one of Watermans’ programmers/curators.

We are also happy to receive requests which meet the criteria at any time in the year. Requests should be sent to us by email, via . Please include ‘Residency Request’ in the subject line of your email.

We require a clear proposal, though, for all Residency requests. The proposal can be in a format which is appropriate to your work and the stage of the project’s development.  Whatever format you use, please include:

  • The artistic idea for your project
  • What type of space you need
  • How much time you think you need
  • What technical support you need
  • Any other specific requests you have