The Nest Residency Programme

Nest Residencies are designed by artists, for artists*. They are simple, adaptable and flexible, and aim to focus on the early stages of idea or project development: to give space to the artistic process through supporting time to play, experiment, dream and meander. There is no requirement to produce anything, other than a blogpost reflecting on your time with us.

We work with artists to structure their residency in the way that best supports them and their practice, and are happy to have a chat with you if you are not sure whether to apply. Our intention with our work at The Nest is to support, and be available for, the wider independent sector – holding a space for artists to come together in work and social contexts that are both nourishing and regenerative – to explore better ways of being and doing.

We want to live and work in a world which is equitable and regenerative for all people and for the planet; where there is connection, cooperation and nurture for all. This programme of residencies at The Nest is one of the ways we bring people together to help build a nurturing and regenerative creative community that can make real and lasting change happen.

*We use the term ‘artist’ to refer to anyone creating work using words, images, sound or the body. We can support most multi and cross disciplinary practice (including performance, theatre, dance, writing, music and visual art) which doesn’t require any ultra-specialist equipment or facilities. If you’re not sure whether that includes you, please ask us.

NEW FOR 2022: Talking Birds celebrates its 30th anniversary of making work in Coventry this year and, to mark this scarily big, round number, we are offering three distinct Nest Residency strands throughout 2022: Hatching, Nestival and Remix. Full details about each strand and how to apply can be found further down this page, and we’ve also made a handy downloadable comparison chart. If these don’t answer all your questions, please do get in touch.

About The Nest

The Nest is a new home base and shared workspace for Talking Birds – and a place for people to come together to imagine better ways of doing things.

It is somewhere to expand our Nest Residency programme and other artist support, development & collaboration opportunities such as Open Cast, Nestival of Ideas, co-working and F13 and, through all of this activity, to build a welcoming, values-driven, climate-conscious, regenerative, creative community – The Flock. (NB: we cannot resist an avian pun…!)

Our studio spaces each have a desk and chair, separate armchair (and rug if you need to lie down!), pin boards, opening windows and lockable doors. The Nest is a working creative building with a lively and varied timetable: relative silence occasionally happens, but can never be guaranteed.

About Nest Residencies

To be clear from the start – Nest Residencies cannot support your fully-formed project idea or proposal – there are other funds out there that are better suited to that. 

We are interested in how a residency at The Nest can help hatch those really early ideas (or half-ideas); in how being freed from delivery might help you to better develop your process and your practice; in what that might teach you about yourself as an artist; and how that might affect or develop your approach to your work. You might call Nest Residencies a small act of resistance against the prevailing requirement to know exactly where you’re going before you set off.

All residencies are held within the open and caring ethos of The Nest, and our ongoing exploration of regenerative creative practice – so we’re also interested in why you are interested in Talking Birds, in our ways of working at The Nest, and in exploring something together. 

We recognise that everyone’s circumstances are different, and we will always have a conversation with applicants before making a formal space/time/money offer. We want to be sure that our offer will be a good fit for you, and will best support you to explore your idea.

Nest Residencies 2022 comparison chart (jpeg)

1. Hatching Residency

A Hatching Residency is an opportunity to experiment or play with an idea at its earliest stages. It offers you time, space and conversation with other artists, and is designed to allow you to think, explore or take a punt on one of those ‘What if…?’ ideas that might otherwise remain flapping around in the back of your head for years. 

Who can apply?

Midlands-based artists of any discipline – working solo, as a duo, or as a small company/collective. It could be an existing or new collaboration. Hatching Residencies prioritise locally-based artists and artists who identify as D/deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent, so mentioning any relevant info in your application is encouraged.

What does the residency offer?

  • A dedicated studio space for 2-10 days (continuously over 2 weeks or spread out over a longer time frame) to best support the Hatching of your idea.
  • A fee tailored to suit you and your working pattern, but roughly equivalent to £500 per person per week.
  • Modest materials budget, if needed.
  • Tailored support such as mentoring or skill-sharing.
  • Access to The Nest library, magazine subscriptions and informal chats with the TBs team and other residents, over coffee/lunch.
  • Any additional access support you might need in order to make the opportunity work for you.

What do we expect of you? 

We expect that you will immerse yourself in your idea, allow yourself to fruitfully meander, free yourself from any external or self-imposed pressure to deliver, and will make the most of this time, space and input to really explore your idea. We also expect that you will write or record a blogpost at the end reflecting on it. We will have a debrief meeting with you afterwards to reflect further and talk about where your idea might go next.

How do I apply?

To apply, fill in the online form (or send an audio/video application covering the following questions to nesting@talkingbirds.co.uk). Tell us about yourself and your practice; what excites you about this opportunity and about Talking Birds/The Nest; any access or support you might need to make the opportunity work for you; and (most importantly) the idea/area of experiment you would use your residency to explore.

Residency period: throughout 2022

Deadline for applications: rolling – we aim to get back to all applicants within a couple of weeks of your application being submitted.


2. Nestival Residency

A Nestival Residency offers somewhere warm, clean and quiet to work for 2 weeks (reading, planning, writing, sketching, dreaming) on a new project or something you have already started. You might have a specific idea you want to delve into; you might want to explore a new area of practice; you might just need some headspace and a supportive environment away from the pressures of project delivery and the challenges of recent times.

Nestival Residencies do not include access to formal mentoring and will be offered in 2022 only – as part of Talking Birds’ 30th Anniversary Nestival Programme. 

Who can apply?

Midlands-based artists of any discipline, with priority given to artists who live or work predominantly within the CV postcode area. These residencies differ from Hatching in that they are aimed solely at individual artists working in any form, who would benefit from some uninterrupted time and space to read/research/write/reflect/connect.

What does the residency offer?

  • A dedicated studio space for a 2 week period (available weekdays 9am-5pm).
  • A fee of £1000 (reduced pro rata for less than 10 resident days).
  • Access to The Nest library, magazine subscriptions and informal chats with the TBs team and other residents, over coffee/lunch.
  • Plus any additional access support you might need. 
  • Otherwise we’ll pretty much leave you to it.

What do we expect of you? 

We expect that you will make the most of this dedicated time and space, and that you will write or record a blogpost at the end reflecting on it.

How do I apply?

To apply, fill in the online form (or send an audio/video application covering the following questions to nestival@talkingbirds.co.uk). Tell us about yourself, your practice and what you’d like to use your residency for; and any access or support you might need to make the opportunity work for you.

Residency period: throughout 2022

Deadline for applications: rolling – we aim to get back to all applicants within a couple of weeks of your application being submitted.


3. Remix Residency for Performance Companies

Inspired by a box of props, a piece of text and some music/sound taken from Talking Birds’ extensive back catalogue, performance companies are invited to Remix Talking Birds, through the exploration and development of something that may or may not become a ‘scratch’ performance, or even grow into something bigger.

The Remix is a little different from both of the other Nest Residencies, because it is aimed specifically at performance companies of 3 or more people. 

Who can apply?

Any Midlands-based performance company with 3 or more members (plus up to two more creative collaborators). The company should be able to demonstrate a strong Coventry connection, even if not all of you are based in the city.

What does the residency offer?

  • Up to 2 weeks in our rehearsal room, aka The Space of Possibilities. 
  • A box of props, a piece of text and some music/sound – all taken from Talking Birds’ extensive back catalogue – as your inspiration. 
  • A fee of up to £5,000 (this is based on 5 people in the room – which might allow you to bring in extra collaborators). This fee is negotiable if you are a larger or smaller outfit.
  • Access to lighting and sound kit and additional costumes/props as required from Talking Birds’ store.
  • Access to The Nest library, magazine subscriptions and informal chats with the TBs team and other residents, over coffee/lunch.
  • Plus any additional access support you might need. 

What do we expect of you? 

You will need insurance cover for your activities (we can help you to arrange this if you don’t have it already) and a bank account. We expect you to make the most of the time and space, and not end up playing Bif Baf Bof all day. At the end of the two weeks you will share what you have created with an invited audience. We also expect that you will write or record a blogpost reflecting on your residency.

How do I apply?

To apply, fill in the online form (or send an audio/video application covering the following questions to nestival@talkingbirds.co.uk). Tell us about your company; what excites you about this opportunity; and to give your initial ideas/response to the idea of Remixing the following items (18 props, an excerpt of text and a piece of music from Talking Birds’ back catalogue):

A history of Talking Birds in 18 objects:

Suitcase, sailor’s hat, sunglasses, umbrella, castle-shaped bucket with spade, wooden toy train, luggage label with cryptic message, ‘Category 3’ door sign, wooden snake, thermos flask, stethoscope, ping pong ball, pith helmet, analogue rotary dial telephone, apron, goggles, head of ‘Wellswept’ manual sweeper, with screwdriver.

Residency period: Remix Residency 2 will take place in Autumn 2022. It will be specifically aimed at graduate companies. If you are, or might be, a graduate company by then – please register your interest here!


FAQs       

Why is Talking Birds running the Nest Residency programme? We want to encourage and mentor under-represented artists, give them space and time to experiment, and to allow this exchange to grow us and our creative community at The Nest, and we want to encourage theatre makers to set up and base their companies in Coventry through supporting the development of small and experimental performance companies in Coventry.          

Who can apply for the Nest residency programme? We work with artists to structure residencies in the way that best supports them and their practice, and are happy to have a chat with you, or show you round The Nest if you are not sure whether to apply. Our intention with our work at The Nest is to support, and be available for, the wider independent sector – holding a space for artists to come together in work and social contexts that are both nourishing and regenerative, guided by our values.

Hatching, Nestival and Remix residencies all have a slightly different emphasis, but we believe that there should be a Nest Residency for Midlands-based practitioners in pretty much any artistic discipline. With The Nest, we have worked to create a space that is genuinely safe, welcoming and nurturing for everyone – Talking Birds’ work here seeks to find better ways of doing things through active practice, and we welcome artists that feel excited by this.

When’s the deadline? This programme runs on a rolling deadline – so there *is* no deadline!

What spaces are available for working in? Within the supportive community at The Nest building, we have created 3 brand new Nest Residence studio spaces with love and care – and we hope you will find them accessible, comfortable and productive spaces to work in. These studios sit alongside studios occupied by Talking Birds artists and other members of the Nest community and residents are encouraged to use communal spaces for co-working and breaks. 

The Space Odyssey studio
The Solid Blue studio

The studio spaces are designed as ‘clean’ spaces, but if you need a ‘dirty’ space, this might be possible, depending on how you want to explore your idea. We should flag up, though, that we are pretty hardline about what materials can be used in the building and on waste generation and disposal, as – in line with our climate conscious stance – we want The Nest community to be a beacon of regenerative practice. If this is something you are also interested in exploring, then a Nest Residency may be an excellent fit for you.

We have put appropriate Covid protocols in place and will keep reviewing these measures to ensure that we can continue to safely offer residency spaces at The Nest.

Will I get paid for my time? The whole point of a Nest Residency is to allow you time, space and conversations to help you experiment and develop your idea – so we will offer you financial support for your time, in addition to a project mentor/sounding board and other appropriate support if needed. We value wellbeing and don’t believe artists should do more work than is reasonable for the money available. As a general rule of thumb, we calculate an offer at around £100 per day (in addition to studio space, access, mentoring support etc) and we will work with you to shape your work to the residency resources and ensure that you do not over-stretch yourself.

I’m on benefits, can I still apply? Yes, we’ll do our best to make the residency work for you,

I’ve got a part time job, can I still apply? You need to be able to commit enough time to your residency to make it worthwhile, but if you can give us a plan for your working pattern that works around your other work, that’s fine by us.

I’m a student, can I still apply? Current Undergraduates are not eligible, but postgrads will be considered as long as you can demonstrate that it will fit around your studies. The second Remix Residency later in the year is targeted at graduate companies.

I’ve got particular access needs, how will these be taken into account? We’ll do our level best to tailor the opportunity to you. We will discuss their “Support Rider” with every successful applicant so we can put in place the things they need to make a residency work for them.

I’m a d/Deaf / disabled / neurodivergent artist based outside the region but interested in developing work in Coventry. Am I eligible? The Hatching Residency is place-based. It is targeted at building the sector in the Midlands, with an emphasis on Coventry – and at building up the Flock (the creative community around The Nest) in particular. However, if you are not Midlands-based, but can make a good case for connecting with The Nest community through coming to explore your idea in Coventry, please get in touch for a conversation.

If I Hatch an idea that I then want to take further, can Talking Birds help with that? At the end of each Hatching residency, we have a reflective conversation with the resident artist(s) – and part of that is about where the idea might go next and how Talking Birds might be involved in, or otherwise support, that next step. This conversation might lead to a further Nest residency, equivalent to the previous ‘First Flight’ residencies, and these are offered by invitation to artists who have already completed a Nest Residency.

Do I need to produce an outcome at the end of the residency? No – although we know, as artists ourselves, you probably will! We want to allow residents the time to really explore their idea, to honour the creative process and to take the pressure off being led by having to produce an outcome.

For all residencies we ask for a blogpost reflecting on what you have explored during your time at The Nest, including your journey on environmentally conscious practice. 

Does my practice fit into the artforms and disciplines Talking Birds supports? It’s the idea, rather than the artform that interests us most, so if you’re not sure whether your idea fits the bill, please get in touch and let’s have a chat about it. We support most multi and cross discipline practice including performance, theatre, dance, music and visual arts that don’t require any ultra-specialist equipment or facilities – and we do our best to support wherever we can.

Who is funding this? Arts Council, England, through its support of Talking Birds as a National Portfolio Organisation.

Who/what is Talking Birds? Talking Birds is a nationally renowned, Coventry-based company of artists specialising in Theatre of Place. You can find out more about our values, our work, Theatre of Place and our new home on this website.

What are Talking Birds’ core values and do mine have to align with them? Our values (Kindness, Brilliance, Transformation, Curiosity, Wellbeing, Collaboration) combined with our ‘six big ideas’ (about artist process & support; access & participation; climate conscience; agency, equity & diversity; nurture & resilience) – weave through our work and guide our choices and interactions. You can find out more about our values and our six big ideas here.

We want to live in a world which is equitable and regenerative for all people and for the planet; where there is connection, cooperation and nurture for all. The development of The Nest is the next step for us – our opportunity to put down roots – to bring people together and build a nurturing and regenerative creative community that shares our values and can make real and lasting change happen. We want to champion, encourage and support inclusive, nurturing, environmentally conscious living and working – finding better ways of doing things through active practice.

As artists we use a wide range of materials, and we try to make better choices when creating work, we think ‘sustainable’ (or breaking even) is no longer good enough, and instead we are aiming for regenerative working practices (in our relationships with people as well as the planet). We are working towards The Nest being a zero waste building/community so that it treads as lightly on the world as possible. We know zero waste is a huge ask, but it’s also a really positive thing to aim for. If we all really think about what we are using – and what we can stop ourselves throwing away – we can make huge progress towards a zero waste target.

We’d like to know why The Nest is the place for your idea and how your residency will be consistent with Talking Birds’ values and/or show a commitment to exploring them, as these residencies are designed to help grow our welcoming-inclusive-change-making-creative-climate-conscious community in Coventry. In a Nest Residency, we want to work with you, to support you to experiment and to try some things out. We are interested in your idea, and in why you think that idea is best explored with us here at The Nest

What is Talking Birds track record in supporting artists in this way? On top of running the Nest Residency Programme since 2018, Talking Birds has a track record of curating project development and residency opportunities for other artists. We previously ran the FarGoSpace programme in (what’s now) FarGo Village, we run a series of open auditions for performers called Open Cast, and we convene the F13 Artists’ Network. We have also developed a mobile captioning tool called the Difference Engine to help make experimental performances (by us and other artists/companies) more accessible.

Will my project supporter/mentor be one of the TBs team? Yes if we have the right skills to support you – but we will work with you to identify what sort of support you need and may draw on one of our many partner/collaborators/networks to work with you too. In-house expertise and interests include: creative development, theatre-making, site-specific work, design, composition and sound design, making work accessible, digital technologies, workshop, graphic and web design, peer critique, strategic planning, evaluation, finance and funding. Theatre makers also benefit from Talking Birds’ ITC (Independent Theatre Council) Hub membership.

Sounds brilliant! How do I apply? Either complete the online application form here. Or you can submit your application in video or audio format to cover the questions asked.

Artists who have already undertaken a residency with us include:

Andy Sargent, Lucy Hayward, Theatre in Black, Sylvia Theuri, Mahendra Patel, Jasmine Moreton, Katie Walters, Rosa Francesca Hinksman, Sinead Brady, Luísa Isabel de Freitas, Chloe Allen, Emily Woodruff, Alan Van Wijgerden, melissandre varin, Tara Rutledge, Angela Mhlanga, Tom Walters, Patsy Brown-Hope, Tom Simkins, Holly Clark, Alex Hilton, Tina Hofman, Elizabeth Hudnott, Corinne, Dion Ellis-Taylor, Indira Prasad, Sarah Owen, Amanda Randall, Emily Tyler, Vimal Korpal, Becky Taylor, Paul Tafaro, Dom Fleming, Duncan Whitley, Wes Finch, Leanne Moden

Artforms include:

Painting, drawing, theatre-making, digital visual art, music, installation, audio, writing, electronics, sculpture, film-making, radio, video, postcard, mixed media visual, dance, performance, online, poetry, interactive…

Each resident writes a blogpost at the end of their residency – and these can be found here.


“this residency has been transformative….Talking Birds, and its residencies programme is an essential example of what mothering could mean when it comes to the arts sector.”

[Nest Resident melissandre varin]