Lancaster Arts TEST Residency: On Circus 2024

Lancaster Arts is seeking proposals for our Test Residency: On Circus 2024 running from 16-20 September 2024. This is an opportunity for contemporary circus practitioners based in the north of England to test and explore ideas.  

The Lancaster Arts TEST residency is an opportunity to experiment with your practice or test new ideas through a supported residency in the Nuffield Theatre, rather than develop a new show or piece of work. In September 2024, this will be for artists or collectives who include contemporary circus in their practice; this may include circus, theatre, dance or live artists and may involve taking your practice in a new direction influenced by new artforms.  We are seeking to support practice that is innovative, contemporary, and cross artform, and requires a large theatre space for its development. The residency will include technical and producer support and an opportunity to engage with the full Lancaster Arts team and may engage directly with research and academics at the University, if this is relevant to the development of your work.  

‘The non-show-outcome based residency allowed me freedom to explore artistic ideas, training and writing without the pressure to deliver a polished performance. [It] supported me to explore multiple strands of my practice with time and space and scale. This allowed for long-term thinking, and the streamlining of my ideas.’ 

Tom Cassani, TEST residency: On Circus, 2023 


Lancaster Arts is supported by Arts Council England as a Combined Arts NPO and is an integral part of Lancaster University. We act as an ideas incubator to support artists who are interested in taking their work in new directions. Each year Lancaster Arts explores a theme to guide, connect and focus our cross-disciplinary artforms. This year, in 2024, we are exploring Flight .  

We have been offering artist residencies that explore new practices in the Nuffield Theatre for many years. Please see two contrasting examples: Tara Fatehi Irani and Leo&Hyde. We are keen to encourage opportunities to link contemporary circus with other artforms. Our popular season on the theme of Women and Circus in 2018 whetted our appetite for more, and in September 2023 we supported our 1st TEST residency: On Circus, with Tom Cassani. You can read more about his experience here. 

The Opportunity  

There is a fee of £1500 for a week’s residency in the Nuffield Theatre. This is inclusive of accommodation and travel. Lancaster Arts can help to arrange accommodation on the university campus (approx £60/night), if this is preferred. The residency includes: 

  • Documentation of the residency commissioned by Lancaster Arts, that the artist(s) can use for their own purposes 

  • Support from across our whole team with particular emphasis on dramaturgical support and feedback from our creative producers and production team 

  • Connections with academics at the university or local relevant groups, if useful 

  • If required, extra financial support will be made available towards access costs. Specific needs to be discussed with the successful artist/s. 

What we are looking for: 

  • An exciting idea that links to the annual theme of Flight and/or to our ongoing work exploring environmental and social justice 

  • Artists who are interested in collaborating with Lancaster Arts 

  • Artists with a track record of working with contemporary circus or an element of circus for at least 5 years

  • An articulation of how the idea extends your practice  

  • Artists whose work is primarily based in the north of England (Cumbria, Northumbria, Lancashire, County Durham, Sunderland, Greater Manchester, Tyne and Wear, Merseyside, Yorkshire) 

What we will ask you to do during the residency: 

  • Present some outcomes of your residency week in a public context (e.g. a work in progress, an ideas or performance sharing etc.)  

  • Contribute some material for Lancaster Arts’ online archive that gives insight into your process and learning from the week (a blog, a podcast, a video diary, pages from your sketch or notebook etc.) 

Technical information 

This opportunity will take place in the Nuffield Theatre, a ‘black box’ space of approximately 22m wide/deep. It is large and adaptable, and effectively combines scale and intimacy. Currently there is a fixed seating bank of 193 seats. The effective playing area is 10 -12m wide and 6 -10m deep, with a grid height of 6m.  

The residency will be supported by a Lancaster Arts technician and there is potential for simple lighting, audio feedback, and projection. We can support proposals that include: ground-based circus skills, working with free standing equipment, aerial work with artists responsible for providing their own rigging along with risk assessment, method statement and certification. Any aerial work will be subject to agreement through a more detailed conversation with the Lancaster Arts production team.  


How to apply: 

Please complete an application form by following this link.  

If you would like to submit your application in a different format for access reasons, please contact us directly. 

We will be asking you to address the following questions (we suggest a maximum of around 250 words per answer): 

Ideas and experience: 

  1. What creative area or idea(s) would you like to explore and how does it link to our annual theme of Flight or our mission around environmental and social justice?  

  2. Why are you interested in this particular residency and why with Lancaster Arts? 

  3. What is your experience in working with contemporary circus? 

  4. How will this residency extend your artistic practice? 


  1. Please briefly outline what circus equipment/rigging you’d like to use, what you can bring with you, and your experience using this equipment. 

  2. Propose an outline budget (including fees, accommodation, travel, expenses, materials)  

  3. Include a short biography / artist statement (NOT a CV)  

  4. Please provide up to 3 links to further information/clips supporting your application, and/or up to 3 images of your work 

  5. Please let us know any access needs you feel we should be aware of (including if you would struggle to participate in an interview during the 9-5pm day)  

Key Dates:  

Application Deadline: Midnight Sunday, 30 June 2024  

  • Interview shortlisted applicants (online) 17/18 July 2024    

  • Site visit to Lancaster: Week of 5 Aug 

  • Nuffield Residency: 16 – 20 September (with a sharing on 20 Sept) 

Please contact with any questions or if you wish to apply in a different format for access reasons.  Please note that we cannot read application drafts.   
Don't forget to fill in our monitoring form here - one for each member of your company.   

Lancaster Arts is committed to encouraging diversity and intersectionality in the arts and we actively encourage proposals from artists from under-represented communities, including people from the Global Majority, and/or those identify as working class, have disabilities, or are from the LGBTQ+ community.   

Posted on 6th Jun, 2024