Hippodrome 120 Sculpture Commission

  • Site-specific commission
  • £2,500 artist fee and £10,000 fabrication budget
  • Up to 5 shortlisted artists will receive £250 to develop full proposals
  • Open to early and mid-career artists who work sculpturally or in three-dimensions
  • Deadline for expressions of interest: 5pm on Friday 5 July 2019


2019 marks 120 years since an entertainment venue was first built on Birmingham Hippodrome’s site. Starting as a circus, then followed by variety, Birmingham Hippodrome is now one of the UK’s busiest theatres.

Founded in 2013, Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre (PSC) is a not-for-profit arts organisation that offers resources that bring together the production of sculpture with critical, cultural and educational programming on this art form. Providing essential opportunities, technical support and facilities, PSC supports the advancement of sculptural practice in the UK, critical engagement and innovation in this field.

As part of the celebrations for their 120th year, Birmingham Hippodrome is working in partnership with PSC to commission a temporary, site-specific sculpture for a void space in their four-storey foyer, around which the building’s primary public staircase ascends. Footfall in the foyer exceeds half a million visitors each year.

Birmingham Hippodrome is interested in receiving expressions of interest from early and mid-career artists whose artistic practices demonstrate an engagement with sculpture and/or work in three dimensions, for a bold, new site-specific art work to be suspended in this void space, which is approximately 10 metres high.

Up to five artists will be shortlisted for £250 awards to develop full proposals. The successful artist will go on to receive an artist’s fee of £2,500 as well as a production budget of £10,000. PSC will support the artist in the project’s management, production and installation.


In this 120th year of there being a theatre on their site, Birmingham Hippodrome welcomes expressions of interest for a bold, site-specific installation that responds to their building, its history and/or the mechanics of its technical workings. Hippodrome seeks to commission a temporary sculptural installation that will instantly grab people’s attention when they enter the space and that will continue to provoke interest upon subsequent visits and across multiple encounters.

The artwork will be sited in the void space of Hippodrome’s four story foyer, around which the primary public staircase ascends. The space is approximately 11 metres high and 1 metre square. This location necessitates installation via a single-point suspension, from above. Applicants are not required to have past experience of installing in this way. Based on the expressions of interest received, a shortlist of artists will conduct a site visit to better understand the space and ask questions about the rigging system prior to working up full proposals. The selected artist will be supported with integrating this aspect into the chosen artwork.

Beyond these constraints Hippodrome encourages conceptual and material creativity in the artistic approach to this commission. It is likely, however, that the successful proposal will be informed by a strong concept that responds to the building, its heritage and/or the mechanics of its technical workings in some way. Hippodrome encourages applications which respond to this theme in the widest sense. For example, the artwork might reference the numerous times the building has been expanded and rebuilt over its 120 years or the tensioned ropes and counterweights which are still employed backstage to manually fly scenery on and off the stage during productions.

Overtly ‘corporate’ proposals are unlikely to be successful. This is an artistic commission and not an advert for Birmingham Hippodrome. Whilst the sculpture will be situated in a highly trafficked location and imagery that may upset or disturb should be avoided, that is not to say the successful proposal will be the ‘safe’ one. Birmingham Hippodrome has numerous active programmes of artistic investment which support and encourage creative ambition, as well as experimental and challenging new work.

Prospective applicants should carefully review the exacting timeline for this commission before deciding whether or not to apply. It is essential that you can commit to the key dates listed.

The production timeline for the successful artist is equally demanding. Should you require it, you will be supported by Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre to work to this timeline, but you should give due consideration to your capacity in the months of August and September.

Please note that proposals requiring electrical power cannot, unfortunately, receive this commission.


The budget for this commission is:

  • £2,500 fee paid directly to the successful artist
  • £10,000 fabrication budget, to be managed by Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre
  • The costs for the installation of the artwork will be paid for out of a separate budget by Birmingham Hippodrome


The selection panel for this commission is comprised of:

  • Emalee Beddoes-Davis, Modern and Contemporary Curator, Birmingham Museums Trust
  • Jo Capper, Public and Off-Site Curator, Grand Union
  • Jonathon Harris, Visual Art Producer, Birmingham Hippodrome
  • Lucy Tomlins, Director, Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre


The selection process for the commission will consist of two stages:

  • In stage one, artists are invited to submit an expression of interest which includes initial thoughts on how they will approach the brief. The concept does not have to be fully worked through and articulated at this stage. We will use this stage to get a clear idea of applying artists’ styles, practice and experience.The selection panel will then shortlist up to five artists. Shortlisted artists will be required to attend a site visit at Birmingham Hippodrome on Wed 17 July, after which they will develop and submit a detailed design proposal for the commission. Where required, Birmingham Hippodrome will cover reasonable travel expenses for the site visit (for journeys originating in the UK only). Artists who submit a full proposal will each receive a £250 fee.
  • In stage two, the selection panel will review the full proposals submitted by the shortlisted artists. With Hippodrome’s Artistic Director, the selection panel will choose one artist to receive the commission.

At each stage, decisions by the selection panel are final and binding. No appeals will be accepted.


Only artists over the age of 18, who are ordinarily resident in the EU, can apply. Artists in undergraduate education at any time during 2019 are not eligible to apply. Artists on postgraduate courses at any point during 2019 must have both completed their course and graduated before the application deadline on 5th July


It is free to apply for this commission.


Deadline for expressions of interestFRIDAY 5 JULY 2019
Shortlisted artists notified10 JULY 2019
Shortlisted artists site visit (attendance compulsory) 17 JULY 2019
Submission of site-specific proposals31 JULY 2019
Successful artist notified 1 AUGUST 2019
Fabrication of artwork (PSC to support if required)AUG/SEPT
Installation of sculptureW/C 30 SEPT 2019
Launch event 9 OCT 2019

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