THE OTHER MA (TOMA) NEW OPEN CALL
COME AND JOIN TOMA IN 2024
The Other MA (TOMA) is an 18-month artist-run learning programme based in Southend-on-Sea supporting artists who have faced barriers accessing art education and the ‘art world’. TOMA was set up in 2016 to offer affordable, accessible and responsive art education to artists and we are the only postgraduate level art programme in Essex after all others were stopped by their host universities. We are unaccredited in the traditional sense, but provide a programme of learning that benefits artists in the same way. We are looking for a new cohort of 15 artists to join TOMA for 2024.
TOMA was born out of precarity, alongside the hierarchies surrounding accessing higher education. Obstacles which uphold these hierarchies can take the form of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, geography. Other obstacles can include; lack of mental space to self-invest due to other life commitments, which is often required when taking on further education. Hidden hierarchies such as not having the art specific language needed to access the contemporary art world, or a certain art school training which can make a traditional MA feel impossible. A lack of time to access traditional university weekday schedules due to work or care commitments, alongside the cost of such courses. Other barriers into traditional art education can be experienced through class, mental health struggles and identifying as neurodivergent, alongside coming into practising art later in life, usually along gender lines or family pressures to study a ‘useful’ subject. And through travelling non-traditional routes into being an artist – no undergraduate degree, no A Level, no GCSE. Alongside, of course, general precarity. TOMA acknowledges the intersectionality of experience and prioritises those who are not able to do traditional MA models.
TOMA was born out of and has been shaped by austerity and the decades long businessification and dismantling of creative education. This, alongside the rise of tuition fees, means it is difficult for artists to flourish unless they become part of the financialised art world. We believe in collaboration over competition and the power of people coming together to create change. These are the politics that bought TOMA into existence.
* TOMA was set up in partnership with Metal in Southend-on-Sea in 2016, working with them for an incubation period before becoming an independent not for profit, a CIC.
TOMA is delivered and coordinated by a small team of artists and organisers. They work with the TOMA board to deliver the education and wider programme. Artists who have been on the programme often continue as TOMAssociates, accessing parts of the programme, meaning there is a widening group of practitioners to connect and work with.
TOMA looks to work with artists who have a strong ongoing practice and are interested in forming and contributing to a supportive, connected artistic community. We are not interested in your CV, just the work you make and how you want to interact with others and within the world. TOMA artists are active learners who want to be part of a community that works together. We put an emphasis on learning together, failing together and succeeding as a group. TOMA emerged in response to austerity and we are familiar with the failure it evokes, in this way we adapt and respond to our network’s needs as well as upskilling practitioners for artistic survival. Artists on the programme choose the route of what they learn and who delivers it. Collaboration over competition, alongside responsiveness, sharing and transparency are central to how we work.
TOMA does accept applications from artists who already have an MA in art but gives priority to those who do not already hold a postgraduate art qualification. This is because TOMA aims to give artists who have not yet studied at this level the opportunity to do so.
TOMA has a core structure of happenings over the 18 months while also being responsive to its artists. As the world changes we are constantly reconfiguring in a way that continues to excite us and those we work with, making sure we feel present. With support from the TOMA team, artists organise and install their own public facing exhibitions, events and learn how to survive, do and make whilst negotiating the challenging 21st century art landscape. TOMA artists experience this through a supportive programme, meeting at least three times a month to take part in a variety of activities including monthly online check-ins with the TOMA team. These sessions take place at the weekend (12pm – 5pm) in person or on a Thursday evening (6.30pm – 9pm), both online and in person, making the programme accessible for those who have weekday work or family commitments. This course is only open to participants in the UK and 80% of the course is in Southend, the rest is online. We do have a hybrid online set up to support artists accessing the programme if they are sick or unable to attend a session in person.
Successful participants will need to ensure they can commit to the full 18 months so they and their fellow TOMA artists get the most out of the course. We centralise shared responsibility alongside the idea of deep hanging out, social events are an important part of the learning programme which runs in seasons centering the developmental journey of its participants.
The TOMA programme includes…
Critical theory and art history talks and discussion groups
Practical making and doing workshops
Collaborative project opportunities
Off-site trips to art spaces
Technical and theoretical support in the production of projects
Sessions on how to survive as an artist (aka professional practice)
Pastoral support from TOMA team
Optional sessions with a mental health professional
TOMA has welcomed in many amazing artist humans over the years including; Abi Palmer, Ackroyd & Harvey, Ali Eisa, Anna Chrystal Stephens, Becky Beasley, Brian Griffiths, Bruce McLean, Charley Peters, Chris Kraus, Florence Peake, Foka Wolf, Griselda Pollock, Heather Phillipson, Hettie Judah, Ima-Abasi Okon, Jade Montserrat, Jefford Horrigan, Jeremy Deller, Jesse Darling, Karla Black, Kate Malone, Laure Prouvost, Liz West, Louisa Buck, Mark Leckey, Michael Landy, Morgan Quaintance, Nastassja Simensky, OpenAI, Priya Mistry, Rebecca Moss, Richard Wentworth, Rosalie Schweiker, Roy Claire Potter, Scottee, Sarah Lucas, Sean Roy Parker, Simon Bedwell, Sonia Boyce, Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives, Susan Stockwell, Tai Shani, The Connor Brothers, The White Pube, Zadie Xa and Zoe Laughlin. TOMA artists have taken part in self-selected practical workshops including; alternative photographic processes, animation, how to approach a gallery, applying for funding, recording archival quality audio, screen printing, performance making, rubber mould making, plaster casting, etching, natural fabric dying, applying to residencies, writing proposals, video making on a low budget, promoting yourself as an artist and working within the digital art sphere. All of these visitors and workshops were selected by the TOMA artists. Each TOMA artist chooses tutors for their duration on the programme. TOMA artists meet with their tutors three times over the 18 months.
Sessions for TOMA artists take place at our friends The Old Waterworks which has an accessible entrance, parking and is also close to both Southend and Westcliff train stations on the c2c line, and Southend Victoria on the Greater Anglia line. We are 50 minutes away from London by train.
TOMA believes it is important to pay practitioners for their time in an art world that often sees artists at the end of the financial food chain. TOMA is funded by its participants and these fees cover the educational programme, paying the artist-led TOMA team and visitors to the programme a fair wage.
TOMA was created in response to one financial crisis, and how we navigate this new crisis is not only practically important, but essential to who we are. We believe in proper pay for artists in these precarious times and work from a rate card which means our fees are transparent and accountable.
The cost of living crisis impacts us all in varying ways and we are constantly working out new ways to explore TOMA’s response to this. We are committed to keeping the fees as low as possible, so that the course is as accessible as possible to all and use a sliding scale fee, providing the opportunity for those who are able to support the programme’s full costs while also keeping costs down for those who would not be able to afford the programme otherwise. We believe in mutual aid and see this as a way of working towards a fully sustainable model for our programme (we’re almost there!). TOMA is also supported by donations to support the programme and external funding for special one-off projects, but we do not want to rely on public or private funding to continue to exist but instead be a self-sustaining, affordable model that has a long life span ensuring both organisational and artist stability.
TOMA is financially transparent and makes clear to artists where their money goes each month. We make our 18-month budget transparent, which you can look at HERE. Artist fees and course costs are often steeped in mystery and decided on by non-artists which means they are not always fair. We want to try and change this by setting precedents with our actions and ways of working. There are no tangible benefits for paying a higher priced tier, we are asking participants to choose the tier which fits their circumstances best. Successful applicants will let us know what tier they will pay after selection, meaning we do not evaluate people’s participation on how much they can pay. TOMA is committed to keeping costs down as we were born out of austerity, but we also acknowledge the importance of proper pay for practitioners and the importance of lessening precarity of small arts organisations’ survival.
100% of TOMA artists have said the programme is great value for money and many former participants continue after the programme as TOMAssociates, enriching the sessions and becoming part of a growing community of artists.
We want people to pick the tier cost that realistically suits their own needs. The tier prices are as follows:
Tier 1: £2,778.30 for 18 months (£154.35 per month): Perhaps you have a stable salaried job. You feel financially secure and don’t really have to think about money on a monthly basis. Perhaps you can afford overseas holidays and manage to put money aside each month into savings.
Tier 2: £2,135.70 for 18 months (£118.65 per month): Perhaps you have regular freelance work. This wage covers your day to day financial needs and you don’t worry about costs on a night out and can save up for a holiday.
Tier 3: £1,512 for 18 months (£84 per month): Perhaps you have low, precarious, income and are living on a tight budget. Day to day life would be more comfortable if you could apply at this tier.
*There are also TWO FULLY FUNDED SPACES available for artists who feel they would not be able to access the programme otherwise; perhaps you have no reliable source of income and struggle to cover day to day financial needs.
**The Tier 1 band is what we would need everyone to pay for the TOMA programme to become fully self-sustaining and not reliant on grants or donations. Tiers 2 and 3 are subsidised through grants and donations.
***Our fees have increased by 5% this year due to the cost of living crisis and increasing core costs due to this. We did this in deep consultation with all TOMA artists, who endlessly shape how we work and what we do, alongside many deep discussions with the board. We did not take this decision lightly. Our fees will continue to flex with economic changes in the world in a transparent way meaning we may decrease again in the future if things start to settle. We have raised our worker and visiting artist wages by 10% also in line with inflation to support those who work with us.
TOMA believes in transparency when dealing with finance, in response to this if participants feel they could only access the programme through a fully funded supported space please do let us know in your application. Likewise, if artists apply and know they can afford to pay fees please do not ask for a supported space.
TOMA OPEN CALL SCHEDULE
Drop in open days @ The Old Waterworks
Thursday 16 November 5pm – 8pm – Meet TOMA artists and print your own risograph poster during our drop-in eve.
Sunday 10 December 1pm – 5pm – Meet TOMA artists and take part in a collage and monoprinting workshop during our drop-in day.
Online open day @ Zoom
Wednesday 6 December 6.30 – 8pm – Tune in for a talk about TOMA and ask any questions about the programme.
6pm on Friday 12 January 2024
Please get in touch if you have any access needs and read our access statement here. This open call is also available in large print, dyslexia friendly options and audio on our website. We understand that making TOMA truly accessible to all is a process of continual learning and adapting. We are committed to undertaking every effort possible to ensure TOMA is accessible to everyone. If you have any questions or need extra support in applying please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Invited artist conversations and portfolio sharing
Friday 9 February 2024
Saturday 10 February 2024
Sunday 11 February 2024
TOMA will give feedback to all applicants.
May 2024 – October 2025
TOMA is nomadic but can mainly be found at The Old Waterworks, North Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS0 7AB.
APPLY AT :https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfFuk_kCm1Fp7MoF7Ar93lOQ_So60zw7L-aNl-_ulrM2rhByA/viewform