Picture Book Commission for South Tyneside

We’re looking to commission artists and/or illustrators to create a number of picture books with early year settings in South Tyneside. This commission is being supported by South Tyneside Council and The Customs House.

The Commission  

We are looking to engage creative practitioners; artists and/or illustrators to create a series of picture books with families from South Tyneside.

We are looking to commission creative practitioners, artists and/or illustrators with experience in engaging families with young children and the experience of drawing out stories from them. These stories can be fictional or non-fictional. Five early years / schools settings are engaged in the project and within each of these settings we would expect two stories to be created with the families.

The budget needs to include all time spent meeting and facilitating workshops and developing the books for printing and publication. We envisage that there will be between two-four families engaged from each setting.

We are open to joint submissions from creative practitioners, artists and/or illustrators to work across one or all of the five settings.

It is hoped that the stories will form a collection and be sold/distributed locally. South Tyneside Council will provide support in kind with venue hire costs and publicity.

Commission Budget*

£1,500 per setting, based on six sessions in each school, planning time in between sessions, contributing to the evaluation of the project and one Go and See visit to a local venue to enhance the project.

Additional illustration budget

There is a budget of £5,000 for the design and illustration of the stories (£1,000 per setting).

*The commission budgets are inclusive of VAT, travel and any other expenses. Room Hire and publicity will be provided by The Cultural Spring and our project partners.


Through this commission we hope to achieve:

High quality, ambitious engagement with families and creating work with strong artistic integrity.

A strong connection to our communities; responding to stories, everyday realities, places, people, histories, hopes and ambitions.

An opportunity for families to see their ideas and stories be brought to life through print.

Innovative approaches to building relationships and engaging families with young children.

Create inspiring stories and illustrations that could lever or unlock additional resources for arts and creative activity in the area in the future.

The settings engaged and their preferred timings for weekly sessions are below:

  • St Aloysius RC Infant School – working with four families from Year 2. The school would prefer the weekly sessions to last 1.5hrs every Tuesday, either 9.15am – 10.45am or 1.30pm – 3.00pm. The school are flexible about when the sessions will begin and will negotiate this with the appointed artist, sessions will need to start and end in the Summer term.
  • Holy Trinity CE Academy – the school has identified four families who they would like to involve in the project. Sessions will run from approximately 2pm until 3.15 on Thursdays and they would like the sessions to happen anytime from Thursday 17th May onwards (No sessions could run w/c 28th May or W/c 4th June due to half term).
  • Hadrian Primary School – the school would like the project to start in school on Tuesday 5th June 1.45-3.15 (with a 1.5 hour introductory session), followed by a one hour session on the following dates, Tuesday 12th June 2.15-3.15 to Tuesday 10th July 2.15-3.15. The appointed artist will be working with four families from two different classes. The parents of one of the families does not speak English and an interpreter will be made available to support their engagement in the sessions.
  • Lord Blyton Primary – the school has identified four families and would like sessions to take place any day of the week from week beginning Mon 4th June till week ending Fri 13th July.  The timing for the session is preferably from 2.15-3.15 each week.
  • Biddick Hall Infants School –the school would like to work with three to four families from reception and Year One classes. Giving a window of 1.5 hours with room to move in between that and an hour.  At this stage the school is unsure whether to have sessions on a morning or afternoon. This may be useful on a Friday afternoon with room for movement if needed. The school would like to start the sessions in mid may.

Each school will be providing a room on the school site for the project and a member of school staff will attend the weekly sessions.


  • Commission launched Thursday 29 March 2018
  • Deadline for Submissions Monday 30 April 2018 at 5pm. Submissions to be electronically emailed to emma.horsman@theculturalspring.org.uk
  • Shortlisted Artists will be interviewed during Tuesday 8 May 2018 – Friday 11 May
  • Commission commences mid May 2018


To apply please send the following in a single PDF document to emma.horsman@theculturalspring.org.uk  including reference: Cultural Spring-Picture Book Commission in your email.

Please describe your idea and approach to this Commission (max 1000 words) include the following:

  • Describe your approach to building partnerships and developing meaningful engagement with families in these early year settings and highlight which setting/s you would like to work with and why?
  • How would you engage families to collaborate with you on the two stories?
  • Please give a brief biography (max 200 words) of your work and for any other artists/illustrators that will be involved with you in this commission
  • Please attach a proposed timeline (include the contact days/workshops with the families, development of the stories, planning, evaluation and visits)
  • Please attach a detailed budget
  • Please confirm that you have Public Liability Insurance cover of up to £5 million. An enhanced DBS clearance will need to be in place (If you do not have an up to date DBS clearance this will need to be in place, at your own cost, if you are awarded this commission)


Through the application process, we will assess the following:

  • Quality and ambition of the artistic approach
  • Quality of approach to engagement with families with young children and track record in this
  • Feasibility and deliverability
  • Value for money
  • Only shortlisted artists will be invited to interview.

Contact details

For further information, or to discuss a potential proposal, please email: emma.horsman@theculturalspring.org.uk or michael.barrass@theculturalspring.org.uk