NoExit Grant for Unpaid Artistic Labour

In anticipation of our 25th anniversary in 2021, Para Site is delighted to announce the NoExit Grant for Unpaid Artistic Labour, which awards HKD 20,000 for unrestricted use to 25 Hong Kong artists at any stage of their careers, who are not receiving stable income from the market or academic work.

“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. Currently, many parts of the economy sustaining artists’ work and forming the basis of their livelihood, international exchanges, events, and projects have been indefinitely suspended. Without support at this moment of crisis 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.” said Cosmin Costinas, Para Site’s Executive Director/Curator.

Para Site has a long-standing commitment to fair remuneration of artists and other collaborators. Constantly working to reconsider the role of institutions in setting standards for equitable labour practices, within the past 12 months, Para Site has implemented several policies and projects including: full health and dental insurance coverage for all Hong Kong artists working on every Para Site project or engagement alongside their artist fee; the ongoing PS Paid Studio Visits which in the few months since its inception has already supported over 40 local artists with a studio visit fee (and one month of health insurance coverage) for every virtual visit; the Hong Kong Collective Independent Art Spaces Fundraiser which we initiated to raise funds for 17 independent art spaces in Hong Kong in response to the pandemic.

Different from most kinds of financial support for which recipients are required to deliver set outcomes, the NoExit Grant for Unpaid Artistic Labour hopes to provide a small but unique and necessary contribution at the crucial (yet often unpaid) phase in artistic practice that allows thinking to flourish, outside of daily stress and without the pressure of production, functioning in a way like an artist residency without travel. The name NoExit was chosen by the anonymous funder who is generously supporting the grant, acknowledging with its existentialist undertone that there is no physical way for artists to easily travel and take part in exhibitions and projects overseas, largely limiting their income.

In 2020, artists receive subsidies for cancelled or postponed activities mainly through the Support Scheme for Arts & Cultural Sector disbursed by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC). HKADC grants up to HKD 7,500 for individual practitioners and HKD 15,000 for existing grant recipients. NoExit Grant for Unpaid Artistic Labour offers both more substantial support (HKD 20,000 to 25 Hong Kong artists) and through its unrestricted use covers items not supported by other grants, including living expenses. Put into context, the amount is equivalent to over a year of medical and dental insurance, a few months of studio rental, or a month of comfortable general costs.

All Hong Kong artists, including artists based in Hong Kong and artists of Hong Kong origin located elsewhere, may apply for the grant.

Applications will be assessed by a panel comprising two members of the Para Site team: Celia Ho, Para Site Curator; and Anqi Li, Para Site Curator of Education and Public Programmes; and three artists as external jury members, putting an emphasis on the principle of being assessed by peers: Ocean Leung, an artist engaged in observing and intervening in the world through street drifting; Wong Ka Ying, artist, writer, and activist who critically reflects on the various social, cultural, and gender issues today; and Samson Young, multi-disciplinary artist trained as a composer.


Application Guidelines

The grant is open to any artist living in Hong Kong and to any artist of Hong Kong origin based abroad. Twenty-five artists will be awarded with HKD20,000 each. The jury decided to award 20 grants based on their individual assessment of merit and need. Five grants will be awarded by lottery from the remaining applications pool. The categories the awardees fall under will remain confidential.

We aim to reduce as much as possible the labour invested in the process, both by the applicants and by the jury, while making it as fair and representative as possible. Applicants are invited to submit the following documents, and urged to observe the length specification.

– A one-page CV (including your website if applicable)


– Please explain your plans for the use of the grant as well as your financial needs. For artists working with galleries, it might be helpful to explain if your financial needs are not fully covered through this relationship. Please submit this using ONE of the formats below:

a.  video (no more than 3 minutes long) OR
b.  PDF document (no more than 3 pages); this may include images and text, with the text no longer than half a page

Applications can be made in either Chinese or English to by December 7, 2020, noon, HKT. The jury will meet in mid-December to make a decision. We hope to disburse the grants before the end of 2020.