Cover An installation view of "A Garden of Six Seasons", Para Site's current exhibition, which runs until November 15 (Photo: Samson Cheung Choi Sang)

In anticipation of its 25th anniversary next year, Para Site is launching its NoExit Grant for Unpaid Artistic Labour, awarding 25 artists HK$20,000 each

Para Site, a major contemporary art centre in Hong Kong and one of the oldest and most active independent art institutions in Asia, has announced the NoExit Grant for Unpaid Artist Labour to support 25 Hong Kong artists who are at any stage of their careers and are not receiving stable income from the art market or academic work. The launch of the grant, which will award 25 local artists HK$20,000 each, comes in advance of Para Site's 25th anniversary next year.

"This award is both an urgent response to the current crisis and a long term effort towards recognising the precarious nature of artistic labour where, even in non-pandemic times, crucial parts of the artistic production process remain unpaid and unacknowledged," says Cosmin Costinas, Para Site's executive director and curator.

The art centre has a long-standing commitment to fair remuneration of artists and other collaborators. And within the past 12 months, it has implemented several new policies and projects to support artists, including full health and dental insurance coverage for all Hong Kong artists working on every Para Site project or engagement, on top of their artist fee; the ongoing PS Paid Studio Visit programme, which has already supported more than 40 local artists with a studio visit fee (together with a month of health insurance coverage); and the Hong Kong Collective Independent Art Spaces Fundraiser, which raised funds for 17 independent art spaces in Hong Kong in response to the pandemic

"Currently, many parts of the economy sustaining artists’ work have been indefinitely suspended and—while there are signs of general economic recovery in Asia—international exchanges, events, and projects that form the basis of livelihood for many artists are nowhere near the path to recovery. Without support at this moment of crisis for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, and without an effort to reimagine our future on a fair and just basis, the post-pandemic world will be unimaginably poorer, bereft of artistic voices and critical spirit," Costinas added.

See also: Material World: Para Site Director Cosmin Costinas' Textiles Collection

The NoExit Grant for Unpaid Artistic Labour is different from many other artist grants, many of which require recipients to deliver set outcomes. The NoExit Grant for Unpaid Artistic Labour, on the other hand, offers no restrictions—recipients can use the money however they see fit. Para Site hopes the grant will provide a small but necessary contribution to allow thinking to flourish, outside of daily stress and without the pressure of production. 

Offering more substantial support than previous subsidies, The NoExit Grant for Unpaid Artistic Labour will award HK$20,000 to 25 Hong Kong artists. To put it into perspective, the amount received is equivalent to over a year of medical and dental insurance, a few months of studio rental or a month of comfortable general costs.

The fund focuses on the crucial aspects of artistic labour that are often unpaid, helping artists from and in this city to live, think and work during this uncertain period of time when travel is on hold and plans are derailed. The name NoExit was chosen by an anonymous funder as an acknowledgement that there is no physical way for artists to easily travel and take part in exhibitions and projects overseas, which limits their income to local sources.

All Hong Kong artists, including artists based in Hong Kong and Hong Kong-born artists located overseas, may apply.

The applications will be assessed by a panel made up of two members from Para Site and three artists as external jury members. The three artists are Ocean Leung; artist, writer and activist Wong Ka Ying; and multi-disciplinary artist Samson Young.

The submissions will open in December 2020. Jury deliberations and the announcement of the recipients will be held in January 2021. For the latest update, submission guidelines and exact timeline, visit Para Site's official website.

See also: On The Block: Top Lots At Para Site's Annual Fundraising Auction