Starts CallJuly 9 2021 through September 9 2021

Open Call for 10 unique residencies for artists

WHY? About S+T+ARTS4Water

Water is Life! All living things need water to survive. Not only does the human body consist of 60 percent water, but this resource is also essential for the production of food, clothing and computers, and for moving our waste stream and keeping the environment and us healthy. And yet, the way in which we approach this resource is not sustainable… For example, leaking sewers, industrial waste and reckless water consumption have a tremendous impact on local water maintenance. At the same time, the oceans and Europe’s waters are suffering wide-scale damage due to our water use, and specifically, to overfishing, the overexploitation of groundwater resources, tourist inflows, intensive agriculture and water demanding industries.

These global challenges require systemic change and the setting into motion of the most profound creative process our generation has known. What is needed in a cross-sectoral approach that can rectify in a holistic manner, our relationship with the natural world, including with the world’s seas and oceans. Further, we must address social attitudes in order to systematically transform the way in which water is valued across business practices, policies, cultural beliefs and behaviour. Through this open call we want to kick-start a series of collaborative processes between artists, researchers and communities that generate projects to raise awareness and/or offer concrete solutions for regional water challenges in Europe.

We believe that artists are crucial in creating the right conditions for bringing out the best in people: imagination, wonder, culture, awareness, disruptive ideas, knowledge and opportunities. The aim of the residencies is for YOU to engage the creative ecosystems of local companies, research institutions and communities in a collaborative process of art and innovation. This process can lead to tangible artworks that develop knowledge and raise awareness of water challenges, or to digital applications & processes that contribute to the local development of sustainable water use and management.

About the call

STARTS4Water Consortium invites artists to apply for one of the ten residencies that are being launched by its European partners: LUCA School of Arts (Belgium) in collaboration with Gluon (Belgium), Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary – TBA21 (Austria), Universal Research Institute (Croatia) ,V2_Lab for the Unstable Media (The Netherlands), Ohi Pezoume/ UrbanDig Project (Greece) and Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto (Italy) and STARTS partner BOZAR– Centre for Fine Arts (Brussels).

This call is looking for artists to contribute to the sustainable management of water in a variety of ways through experimental use of and/or critical reflection on digital technologies. Can we rethink the paradigms that have guided water policy and investments to date through artistic practice and art-inspired thinking and by increasing the use of new technologies? How can technology become a collaborator in the development of new pathways rather than a mere solution? What is at stake in terms of how we experience, understand and value water systems?

Who can apply?

The call is open to professional and experienced artists from any art-related field, both individuals and working groups, regardless of gender or religion, ethnicity or age who are willing to collaborate with an expert network of curators, scientists and technology (ICT) professionals and contribute to the discourse on local water challenges as well as concrete, digitally based solutions. Through the artistic process you will engage with real-life regional challenges and local communities with a view to breaking the old dichotomies between autonomous and applied art, in order to create space for novel approaches to water management.

What do we offer?

  • 10 grants will be awarded
  • The budget for each residency is 40.000€, including artwork production and artist fee
  • Throughout the residencies, the STARTS4Water Consortium will offer the necessary expertise and support from ICT experts affiliated with research institutions, universities, university colleges, innovative companies and start-ups

The 10 STARTS4Water Residencies

Water is a Global Challenge that requires regional solutions. This is because the effects and consequences of water management can vary due to geography, infrastructure, climate and the impact of human activities on the environment. Through the STARTS4Water Expert Program we have mobilised the regional network’s resources, experiences and know-how. Each partner has built an expert network that is highly diverse in terms of the origins, profession and background of its members, and includes digital experts, entrepreneurs, regional leading art and research institutions, specialists in digital transformation, administration and public governance. The STARTS4Water Experts have shaped an open call for ten ‘regional water challenges’, bringing together SDG6 + SDG14 interlinkages and potential breakthrough technologies around key local and regional challenges related to water management.

In the application form you should mark which of the regional challenges you are applying for. Your motivation letter should also make specific reference to it.

You can download the description of all challenges here.

How to apply?

Please submit your applications exclusively via our online application form.
You can only submit one regional challenge per person. The application must be written in English.

Information requested in the form:

date and place of birth
address (place of residence)
phone number
social media accounts

Applicants must also include the following:

Letter of motivation in English outlining your artistic approach and how your practice is related to the regional challenge you are applying for (maximum 700 words)
A portfolio (with maximum 5 relevant projects/artworks)
A brief biography and a CV (maximum 4 pages)

Please submit the materials mentioned above as a single pdf (max 10 MB).

Selection criteria

The Jury will be assessing applications based on the following criteria:

  • Artistic quality: based both on previous work by the artist(s) and on the vision developed in the proposal regarding the use of digital technology in tackling the STARTS4Water challenges
  • Art-technology congruency: quality and success of the collaboration proposed between art and technology
  • Quality and strength of the proposal’s link with concepts of innovation, education, social inclusion or sustainability
  • General criteria such as aesthetics, originality, concept’s credibility, innovation potential and technical approach

Application guidelines

  • Deadline for submission of applications: 30th of August, 2021, 11 PM CET 
  • Pre-selection: beginning in September   
  • Artists who are nominated will present their artistic concept to a high-level jury in mid-September 2021
  • Announcement of the artists selected: end of September, 2021
  • Time-frame for the residencies: October 2021 – June 2022 : (duration: max 6 months)
  • Finalisation of the artwork by June 2022.
  • Presentation of the results to the partner network of STARTS4Water: V2, Rotterdam (NL); BOZAR- Centre For Fine Arts, Brussels (BE) and Ocean Space, Venice (IT). Exact dates and location of the project presentation are to be confirmed with the STARTS4Water Consortium
  • This is not a virtual artist in residency programme, physical presence is required and will be defined in accordance with the host institution.

Eligibility criteria

  • Applicants must have a substantial track record of relevant experience.
  • Applicants will be professional artists working in diverse media—digital media, moving image, painting and printmaking, performance, photography, sculpture, sound, and text— as well as cultural practitioners and activists informed by and concerned with archival research, knowledge production, place making, and/or community-based engagement.
  • Applicants must speak fluent English 
  • Applicants must be available to be in the region in question for a period of several days (exact number to be agreed with the Artist Residency host) between October 2021 and June 2022.        
  • The European dimension will be of critical importance in the selection of the STARTS4Water residencies

Selection Committee

Pre-selection: Each consortium partner will bring together a Jury formed of regional professionals from diverse backgrounds who will pre-select the most suitable candidates for the Regional Challenge defined by the hosting institution. All applicants will be informed about the results of the Jury meeting at the beginning of September.

Final selection: The nominated artists will be invited to (digitally) present their proposal to a high-level Jury made up of 12 members, nominated in agreement with the European Commission. Transparency and equality will be ensured throughout the whole selection process.


For any further inquiries, please contact us at: valery.desmedt@luca-arts.be

S+T+ARTS 4 Water