Arts festival celebrates 10 years with revamp to open competition

Warrington Contemporary Open Competition is returning in 2020 to celebrate 10 years of exceptional art, and this year is bringing in one or two changes to make it more diverse than ever before.

Each year, visual artists from across the North West compete to win a career-changing prize and 2020 is set to take the competition to the next level with three fantastic prizes and a new set of rules.

The revamped competition is on the hunt for three worthy winners, who could be in with the chance of winning one of these prizes:

  • £1,000 cash prize;

  • £1,000 for fees towards a solo show as part of the 2021 Arts Festival, with support from Culture Warrington staff;

  • A residency at Pyramid Arts Centre in 2021 for the winner of the Highly Commended prize.

Leah Biddle, Cultural Manager of Culture Warrington – the charity that runs Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival – said: “This year, we want to encourage as many entries as possible so we’ve ripped up the rule book and are inviting applications from across the whole spectrum of contemporary arts, including dance, spoken word, installation art, film, visual arts, photography and more.

“We’ve also extended the boundary to within a 60-mile radius of Warrington, reaching as far as Sheffield, Lancaster, Llandudno, and Wolverhampton, and we’ve also taken the decision to waive application fees to help support the creative community during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

This year also welcomes the expertise of guest curator and previous winner Marie Jones, who will be helping to curate and organise this year’s competition.

Marie’s outstanding entry in the 2018 competition took her career on a remarkable journey, leading her to exhibit her very own solo show and go on to gain national recognition.

She said: “Winning the 2018 Open was a great opportunity for my practice. It was my first solo show and I was able to produce a whole body of work to exhibit, which was a huge success.

“I’ve built great relationships with the staff and team here at the gallery, it’s led me to meet other local artists and I now work in the studios next door.”

Joining the Museum & Art Gallery team are a panel of expert judges from leading venues across the North West, including Mariama Attah (Open Eye Gallery Curator, Liverpool), Chris Bailkoski (PROFORMA & Soup Kitchen Director, Manchester), Paulette Terry Brien (Grundy Art Gallery Curator, Blackpool), Jane McLean (Cheshire Dance Creative Director), Matthew Pendergast (Castlefield Gallery Curator, Manchester) and Lesley Taker (FACT Exhibitions Manager, Liverpool).

Leah said: “All of our judges are highly-respected in their fields and have made a real impact on the cultural scene in the North West.

“It’s an absolute privilege to be working with them for this year’s competition and we can’t wait to welcome them on board!”

The 2020 Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival Open Competition opens at midday on Monday 6 July 2020 and welcomes entries from individual artists or collectives.

Artists and collectives have until midday on Monday 10 August 2020 to submit their entries via the website.

Winners will be announced at the launch of the exhibition on Thursday 10 September 2020.

Click here for more information and to enter this year’s competition.