Somerset House Studios, Image by Dan Wilton

Application guidelines

Applications closed

What is the purpose of Somerset House Studios?

The main objective of Somerset House Studios is to support practicing artists, makers and thinkers to work. Artists pay rent, but rent is controlled by Somerset House to ensure it remains as low as possible. We use the term ‘resident’ rather than lease as we offer more than just space. We offer opportunities to develop or received feedback on work, develop engagement skills for working with young people and a burgeoning programme of professional development opportunities. Artists must propose a focus for the term they wish to be resident at the Studios as part of their application.


When can I see the studio spaces?

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to view the spaces and discuss their application with the Somerset House Studios team.

How long are applications open for, and when is the deadline? 

Applications open July 2019 and the deadline for applications is 21.00 on Sunday 18 August 2019. Please note that late applications will not be accepted.

Will I receive confirmation of receipt of my application?

Yes, confirmation of all applications will be emailed.

Who selects the artists?

Applications will be reviewed by Somerset House Studios and Somerset House Trust. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to view the spaces and discuss their application with the Somerset House Studios. Please note that the meeting dates are outlined at the time of applications and these dates are not flexible, though evening times will be possible. Meetings by Skype can only be accommodated if no alternative is possible.

How long can I request to be resident at Somerset House Studios?

Eligible artists may apply for a space at Somerset House Studios for a period of 1 to 2.5 years. The duration proposed should relate to a planned period of activity for the artist around their own aims and objectives. The period can be broken down into 6 month segments: 1 year, 1.5 years, 2 years or 2.5 years.

Will I only be offered the space I apply for?

We may offer you an alternative space if we cannot accommodate your preference but feel an alternative may work.

Are the move-in dates flexible?

The advertised studio spaces available must be occupied by 01 October 2019 unless otherwise specified . By submitting an application for a space, it is presumed that you are in a position to take up the studio from this date and rent will be payable from the 01 October 2019. It may be possible to move in earlier if desired and if the space is available sooner, and this would be communicated at the point of an offer being issued.

We’re a group of individual artists looking to share a space – can we apply as a group?

Yes, but each artist will be evaluated on their own merit and all artists must be considered suitable for the Studios by the selection panel.

What happens if I’m selected?

Those selected will be offered a studio or desk space and issued with an agreement along with details for how to pay a deposit of £200 inc. VAT, or 1 months’ rent inc. VAT (whichever is the higher value). Please let us know immediately if your position has changed or if you are no longer available to take the studio space. Demand is very high so we do appreciate your co-operation on this point.

How do I secure my studio?

In order to secure your studio space, you must return a signed agreement along with proof of your deposit payment within 7 days of receipt of your offer.

What if my situation changes? Is there a notice period?

A notice period of three months must be given by either parties in order to leave Somerset House Studios before the end of the agreement.

Can I sublet my space?

No, subletting is not possible. We have future plans to explore how we be more flexible for artists offered short term opportunities whilst based with us, but this is in the next phase of the project. 

Can I extend my residency?

In some instances, where an artist has applied for a space below the maximum duration of 2.5 years, we may consider an extension of the residency if deemed beneficial to the artist and the proposed space has not been allocated elsewhere. 

What happens if I’m not selected?

Demand for affordable working space in the centre of London is very high. Artists who are unsuccessful in their application are welcome to apply again at a future date, but not within 18 months of the closing date for their last application. 

Can I receive feedback on my application?

Due to the anticipated volume of applications, we will not be able to offer feedback to unsuccessful applicants. Please note that the decision is final and there is no appeal or re-consideration process.

I don’t need a studio right now. Will there be future opportunities to apply to Somerset House Studios?

We will have a rolling expression of interest form when open call for applications close. You can sign up to Join our mailing list to hear about all future Somerset House Studios opportunities.


What’s included in the cost of space?
  • Dedicated studio or desk space at Somerset House Studios from 1 to 2.5 years with 24 hour access 
  • Internet, cleaning, electricity, heating charges, water charges and building insurance (not content insurance)
  • Your profile on the Somerset House website
  • A Somerset House Studios postal address
  • Access to social spaces which include games rooms, kitchen, residents café/bar and screening facilities
  • Access to development opportunities within the Somerset House Studios community
  • Opportunities to attend and initiate community events and socials
  • Access to free private meeting room space (subject to availability)
  • Access to larger project spaces including rehearsal space with sprung floor and recording studio at subsidised artist rates
  • Access to private event space at Somerset House at subsidised artist rates
  • Access to Makerversity facilities at subsidised artist rates

Discounts across the Somerset House site including cafés, restaurants and shops

Are my own contents insured under Somerset House Studios insurance policy?

Building insurance is included in the cost of your rent but any property kept on the premises is your responsibility and you should obtain your own insurance for your contents, if required.

How does payment work?

Payment is by monthly direct debit and processed using GoCardless, all residents must set up a GoCardless account. A deposit is required to secure your studio at Somerset House Studios. 

What happens when my residency comes to an end?

At the end of the residency, each studio space must be left as it was found at the beginning of the residency period. All making good costs must be covered by the resident before they leave. Any costs to Somerset House Studios in relation to making good the space after a period of residency will be deducted from the artists’ deposit, which is outlined in more detail in your agreement.


What time will I have access to my studio?

24 hour access is possible for Somerset House Studios, with some guidance around working at unusual hours and working alone in a space.

What is the minimum usage for studio space at Somerset House Studios?

Space at Somerset House Studios is in high demand and is offered to artists based on the understanding that it will be their main space of work. Artists must be committed to using their studio at least two days / 16 hours per working week. We understand that artists may need to be away from their studio to undertake projects and residencies which is permitted as long as Somerset House Studios is kept informed. If Somerset House Studios feel that a studio space is being under used, the artist residency period may be reviewed.

How does shared space work?

This depends on the type of space, as outlined in more detail below. We encourage artists to create a working environment that suits their individual needs, but ask that they consider and respect others working around them and keep an open dialogue about how the space is shared.

How are the Vault spaces shared?

Vault spaces have two floors with different artist residents on each floor. A shared vault floor is based on two artist residents splitting a vault floor equally, 50/50. Shared vaults are let on the basis that no more than four artists are using each floor full time. For shorter periods of activity, such as temporary growth of a team to deliver a project, no more than 6 people should be working on any vault floor at one time. 

How does shared space work if I apply for a desk in a shared studio?

Desks in shared studios are let by desk, one desk per person. Where artists require two desks, multiple personnel may use the second desk on a part-time basis but residents are not permitted to expand beyond this with additional chairs or tables or use the shared space for more than one person per desk. The lead artist must always have a designated desk. Where additional personnel are working with an artist on a regular basis in a shared desk studio, the artist must apply for an additional desk or consider a more suitable type of space. 

Will I have a choice about who I share my studio with?

The majority of our studio spaces are shared and Somerset House Studios will endeavour to ensure that artists are paired with those who can work well together, but artists cannot choose a certain space based on current occupants. 

Can I move studio if my circumstances change?

While we aim to be as flexible as possible, this may not always be possible and any studio move would be on a case by case basis subject to availability.

Are studios furnished?

For those applying for a desk space in a shared studio, a basic furniture inventory of a desk space and chair is provided. This furniture has been reclaimed and repurposed from the building and is not office regulation furniture, which Somerset House Studios does not supply.

Private booths are not furnished but some shelving and storage is contained in the booth itself. Small solo studios, large solo studios and vault spaces are unfurnished.

Can I bring in my own furniture?

Yes, for spaces that are unfurnished. Artists must consult with Somerset House Studios before bringing in any large items as Somerset House is a Grade 1 listed building and all furniture should be freestanding where ever possible. We do allow you to have a fridge within your studio, however we prefer that it does not have a freezer compartment to minimise the risk of leaks in the building. Please note that no toasters are permitted on-site and kettles are only permitted in the vault spaces.

Can I decorate my studio space?

Any alterations to the studio including shelving, attaching items to the wall, furniture in shared spaces, IT / cabling / telecoms etc. must be approved in advance by Somerset House Studios. It is possible to attach items to the wall bearing in mind that any costs for damage to the wall or paintwork must be covered by the artist at the end of the residency to make good the space. In shared studios, please note that wall space is also shared.

What’s the story with Internet?

Internet is included in the rent, based on fair usage. Wi-Fi is available, but for a more stable connection and for faster speeds we recommend that residents plug directly into the internet ports available using an ethernet cable (please note you may require an adapter for this depending on your computer or device).

Are all studio spaces accessible?

Most vault spaces are not wheelchair accessible but all other studios are accessible by lift.

Are the studios sound proofed?

There is some sound reduction measures in place but studios are not sound proofed. We welcome applications from artists who work with sound or music but it is not possible to work with amplified sound or very loud noise in our spaces at present. At this point, we do not have rehearsal spaces suitable for amplified sound.

Can I bring visitors into Somerset House Studios?

Yes, it is permitted to invite visitors to your studio space. Meetings in shared studios are not permitted as they are likely to cause disruption to other artists, but it is possible to use communal spaces or bookable project spaces for this purpose. Please note that artists shall not be entitled to invite guests to use the services at Somerset House Studios except where explicitly agreed with Somerset House Studios in advance.

Are the spaces suitable for children?

Unfortunately we cannot accommodate children at this time as our spaces are not suitable. All Somerset House Studios artists must be over 18 years of age.

Is there security at Somerset House Studios?

Yes, the site is patrolled 24 hours by a security team that are all first aid trained.

Who has access to my studio space?

You and other artists sharing the space in a shared studio scenario, Somerset House Studios and Somerset House Trust (or any other agent, employee or subcontractor). Reasonable advance notice of required access by Somerset House Studios or Somerset House Trust will be given wherever possible. Please note that Somerset House Trust have no liability for any property or personal possessions in your studio.

Can I use Somerset House Studios as the registered office of a company or partnership?

No, this is not permitted.

Can I store my bike in my studio?

No, but secure bicycle parking is available for resident artists.

Can I bring in my pets?

Pets are not permitted in shared studios but may be permitted in solo spaces, subject to prior approval by Somerset House Studios. 

Will the studios be cleaned?

Somerset House Studios will have all studio spaces cleaned and general waste collected, but artists are responsible for leaving all communal spaces clean and tidy.

Can I undertake hot works in the studio spaces?

As Somerset House is a grade 1 listed building the Studios are not suitable for an artist who requires hot works on a regular basis. For very infrequent use, hot works may be possible and this is assessed on a case by case basis in close consultation with Somerset House Studios.


What do I have to commit to in terms of the Somerset House Studios community?

Space at Somerset House Studios is controlled by Somerset House Trust to keep the price below market rate. We do this on the understanding that all resident artists will contribute to the Somerset House Trust charitable aims through the community programme, public programme or learning programme and be open to connecting to the community of artists in this environment. There is a wide variety of ways in which artists can contribute, and we aim to work with the artist’s area of interest in identifying together what might be most suitable. Some examples might be sharing skills or organising events for the artist community, hosting talks or salons in the public programme or working with our Learning team on projects for young people. Each contribution is unique to the artist, and we ask you to outline potential areas of interest within your application form. 

What are the Somerset House Trust charitable aims?
  • To establish a unique artistic purpose that will ensure we stand out as a different kind of cultural centre, turning us from a receiving venue into an important arts producer
  • To create a physical home for wide-ranging collaborative experimental work that is not defined by genre
  • To enhance the education opportunities for the general public by provision of a centre of arts and culture 
  • To maintain the buildings for the benefit of the local and international community as an outstanding example of English national heritage
  • To develop an innovative learning and participation programme
If I become a resident artist, am I entitled to have work in the Somerset House Studios public programme?

Having your work presented at Somerset House should not be your main motivation to being here, and this is not a guarantee for any resident. We began experimenting with artist projects in January 2017 as we establish the shape of the public programme for Somerset House Studios, which is very much a work in progress. The team welcome the discussion of both finished and unfinished projects for presentation within our curated programme, but Somerset House Trust is not obliged to present or commission works by resident artists, budget and resources are limited.

What contact will I have with the Somerset House Studios team?

All artists commit to an induction on their first day at Somerset House Studios to become familiar with the building, and then an entrance meeting which takes place within one month of each move-in date. At each entrance meeting, goals are set against each artists specific aims and objectives with measurable targets over the period of the residency. These goals will be reviewed over the duration of the residency and all artists participate in an exit meeting at the end of their residency as part of our ongoing evaluation. More informal contact with the Somerset House Studios team will be on a regular ongoing basis, with an open door policy in the Studios office and a regular programme of community activity.

Outside of the community of artists, who else is based at Somerset House Studios?

Somerset House Studios is home to Makerveristy, who are the largest residents of the Studios. Makerversity build and run spaces for professional makers, which combine co-working space with clean and messy workshop space, machines and tools. Makerversity memberships are flexible to ensure they can suit a whole mix of business needs at every stage of their journey, from graduates developing ideas and early stage startups to fully fledged teams. What unites all of these members is an incredible community atmosphere and access to unrivalled facilities. Somerset House Studios artists can access Makerversity workshop facilities which include digital tools, wood work, metal work, textile and assembly space at artist rates. 

Somerset House Studios is also home to Studio 48. Residents here are largely groups or individuals working with critical design and new technologies and contribute to the community in the same way the artists do.

What is an Associate Artist?

Somerset House Studios works with a small number of Associate Artists to develop specific projects and ideas for our public or community programmes. The Associate Artist programme enables us to extend the reach of our community and facilities to those who do not need fixed studio space, or those artists whose practice cannot be accommodated by the physical limitations of the building. Associate Artists are an extended part of the network - accessing all the same shared facilities and opportunities as resident artists who are all building based - who bring ideas to our programmes that enrich the community. They are integral to ensuring the Studios remain diverse and exciting. Associate Artists are by invitation only, in relation to a specific project or idea, and for a fixed period directly relating to the duration of their project.

Applications closed