How not to
exclude artist-parents

Guidelines for Institutions and Residencies


Supporting diversity whether it be age, ethnicity, gender, lone or parental status isn’t just about being fair – it’s also about us allowing a diverse flow of experience, nuance, innovation, invention to flourish so the work, the gallery, the practice of art is as rich as it can be. Dispensation for real life needs to start to be built into all collaborations with artists.

Melanie Jackson

A statement

While responsibility for childcare currently falls overwhelmingly on mothers, we are using the word ‘parent’ in these guidelines in the hope this may change.

A suggestion

Treat the artist as a whole person

11 requests

  1. Be flexible

  2. Be explicitly welcoming to artists with families. Be breastfeeding friendly. Stay in contact with artists when they become parents. Art doesn’t need to be family-friendly, but the institution should.

  3. Make it standard practice to identify an artist’s circumstances at the outset of a project, and have structures in place to accommodate their parenting responsibilities. Artists shouldn’t fear losing a show, commission or residency when they ‘confess’ being a parent!

  4. Assume that any artist-parent may need to travel with their children and a partner or other caregiver.

  5. Agree at the outset what is expected and when, and give enough time for planning accordingly. Don’t make last-minute requests for texts, talks and other extras.

  6. Consider having a budget for an artist’s childcare costs. Discuss childcare upfront with the artist and be clear about what you can and can’t cover. Allow artists to invoice for the part spent on childcare as a direct cost so they won’t be taxed for it as income.

  7. Schedule openings and events possible to artist-parent’s schedules.

  8. Be aware of term dates in schools, and programme around them. Offer artists who need to travel with children to install a show over half-term, for example.

  9. Re-think or remove age limits for residencies and awards so that they become inclusive for artists whose careers have been interrupted by having and caring for children.

  10. Adapt residencies to fit parenting needs. Allow artists to split the residency period into manageable sections, or support them with a research and development period in their own studio if they can’t travel.

  11. Don’t read gaps on a CV as indication of a lack of commitment or effort. Artists’ careers come in many shapes and are paused for many reasons: parenting among them. Emerging artists are not always those who graduated most recently.