Diversity and Inclusion
Artists and creative practitioners are the focus of WEVAA’s funding, with priorities around diversity and inclusion. The programme aims to enable talent development as widely as possible, including young people, artists, and independent arts workers from underrepresented groups – particularly those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19: people who identify as D/deaf, disabled or neurodivergent, come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and/or who experience racism.
We work with two Critical Friends annually (see below), people who attend WEVAA events and partnership meetings to provide honest and fair feedback about our activities; particularly the programme’s ability to empower and support artists from underrepresented backgrounds.
Opportunities (below) are designed to support people currently underrepresented in the visual arts sector in the South West, and address systemic issues that create barriers for participation.
Find out about how VASW are working to tackle structural and systemic issues in the sector through Together We Will.
Critical Friends and Ambassadors
Rach’s creative career started from a young age, when art acted as a sanctuary away from living in a hostile environment. Her path led to time living off grid, where she discovered meditation, a vital stimulus within her creative practice today.
From rural artistry and craft, Rach moved into commercial animation, with companies such as Nintendo and Rice Krispies. Better suiting her active nature, she transitioned into commercial display & commissions, working with clients such as Harrods, Marks & Spencer, Regent Street Lights, and The Sultan of Brunei. This commercial work advanced into social based community art, bringing greater alignment between her personal values and professional career.
Her experience of moving from active climber and aerialist to physically disabled, influenced her educational choices, studying to the level of PHD in inclusion and diversity. She now specialises as an arts advocate for the D/disabled community within The Arts Council Wales, Disability Arts Cymru, Spike Island and WEVAA.
She continues to push personal and professional boundaries as a multi-disciplined freelance artist and active advocate believing that inclusive arts enhance wellbeing and that ‘Art is for All’.
Jack Young is a writer and participatory artist living in Bristol. He writes experimental work with a focus on queer ecologies, and his hybrid chapbook URTH was published by Big White Shed in 2022. He co-hosts the literary podcast Tender Buttons in partnership with Storysmith bookshop.
As an educator, Jack works with young people using arts-based critical pedagogy to explore themes ranging from reanimating the gaps and silences in historical archives, to queer ecologies and speculative fiction. He has worked with schools and institutions in Barcelona, London and Bristol including MACBA, Institut Broggi, the Royal Academy, Horniman Museum, Tate, Gasworks, Spike Island, UWE Bristol, Bath Spa University, Acta Theatre and Artspace Lifespace.
Abbi Bayliss is a digital illustrator and visual artist. Abbi has exhibited at Tate Britain with Tate Collective, Bristol Light Festival’s Banksy installation, The World Reimagined nationwide globe project at Trafalgar Square, Lush UK and had a regional exhibition tour of her Black Portraits Project exhibited across the South West to Carnaby street.
Working within Bristol’s Art sectors such as the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) artist facilitator and Arnolfini’s previous Marketing and Communications Assistant, she’s also a Rising Arts Agency creative, and the youngest member of the Visual Arts South West Steering Group. She’s currently working within University West of England, launching UWE’s New Wave agency, widening access for upcoming creatives in the sector.
Alongside this, Abbi is a published illustrator of two children’s books, she has been commissioned by the BBC, Watershed, Exeter University and has written podcasts for the National Trust, earning her title one of Bristol’s most influential people under 30 by Rife Magazine.
Spike Island Engagement Fellowship
The Spike Island Engagement Fellowship supports independent artists and curators based in the South West to plan, develop and deliver a programme of events and activities in collaboration with community groups and young people.
Fellows work closely with Spike Island and local partners to develop inclusive approaches to engagement through events, such as workshops, tours, talks and reading groups.
Previous fellows include Jack Young and Rachal Bradley.
Spike Island Associate Membership Bursary
Spike Island Associates is a network of artists, curators, designers, writers and producers at all stages of their careers.
WEVAA supports bursaries for people who identify as D/deaf, disabled or neurodivergent, come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and/or who experience racism, as they are currently underrepresented in the network. 50% of are reserved for people in Bristol (6 spaces), Bath & North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset (4 spaces).
Spike Island Subsidised Studio Spaces
Spike Island is home to over 70 independent artists at different stages of their careers and working across all types of media.
WEVAA supports bursaries to enable access for artists who are currently underrepresented in the sector: those who experience racism, identify as D/deaf, disabled or neurodivergent, or come from a disadvantaged socio-economic background. Eligible applicants will be entitled to a 25% discount on studio rental costs for the full term of their lease (five years).
Studio artists are also eligible for discounted membership of Spike Island Associates.
VASW Online Training and Resources
Our online training programme covers a wide range of key skills, from fundraising to inclusion, and includes workshops and training opportunities with inspiring practitioners. The programme aims to support different career stages and experiences for artists, producers, curators and art workers in the region.