Challenging artists and scientists to collaborate on new approaches to the creative process, the £15,000 DARE Art Prize 2023/24 awarded by the University of Leeds and Opera North is open for applications.

Part of our pioneering DARE partnership with the University, and in association with the National Science and Media Museum and The Tetley, the fifth instalment of the Prize will be awarded to an innovative, ambitious artist with an original proposal for creative works in partnership with leading scientists at the University of Leeds.

“The idea that the creativity required in scientific research and artistic composition is somehow different is fascinating to consider”, comments John Ladbury, Professor of Mechanistic Biology at the University of Leeds. “The DARE Art Prize provides an opportunity for an artist to embark on a journey to explore this idea and close the perceived gap in creative endeavour.”

About past DARE Art Prize winners

The four past prize-winners have each interacted with the work of the University and the Leeds-based opera company in unexpected, illuminating and very different ways, bridging the gulf between two fields that are often seen as mutually exclusive.

Composer and winner of the inaugural prize Samuel Hertz worked with low-frequency infrasound, delving into climatology, the environment and the paranormal, with outcomes including a musical transcription of a glacier melting.

Artist and researcher Anna Ridler (2018-19) spent her tenure investigating the points at which artificial and human intelligence coincide. Applying theories about the brain’s response to unfamiliar tasks, with the collaboration of staff in the University of Leeds’ School of Psychology, she taught a machine to draw, and employed an algorithm to process musical scores.

Samuel Hertz (electronics and water), Kieran Blyth and Wilfred Amis (electric guitars) performing GUNSLINGER in the Howard Assembly Room, February 2018 © Opera North

Poet and visual artist Redell Olsen overcame pandemic restrictions in 2020-21 with a web of multimedia works produced in close dialogue with each of the institutions, working remotely with scientists at the University’s BioDAR insect radar unit, singers and music staff at Opera North, and objects in the collection of the National Science and Media Museum. Poems, collages and a Handel opera restaged for moths were among her unexpected, often poignant, body of works “somewhere between artistic, poetic and scientific research”, in the words of the artist.

With a background taking in blacksmithing, sculpture and “absurd artistic interventions”, current DARE Art Prize artist Katie Surridge has developed a creative solution to the global problem of electronic waste through research at the University of Leeds, workshops at the Tetley and a field trip to India. Beginning with donation boxes and dismantling sessions for members of the public, her “Modern Mining” project uses community engagement, cutting-edge science and Iron Age-inspired casting to give new life to the valuable elements – including gold, silver, copper, platinum, aluminium and cobalt – that are trapped in discarded electronic devices.

Application guidance

The DARE Art Prize offers a bursary of £10,000 paid quarterly over twelve months, a budget of up to £5,000 for resources to create and present new work, and the chance to engage with scientific researchers and artists who share a vision, and whose specialist expertise can support the creation of something new. There are further opportunities for residencies at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford and The Tetley, Leeds. Access to musicians, studio space and resources from Opera North may also be available.

There are no restrictions on the form of the outcome: it could be any public-facing artform or channel – a performance, a poem, an interactive website or a song cycle for example – but the project must be achievable within twelve months, ending in Winter 2024/5.

The proposal could be a continuation of an existing body of work or an entirely new project for the artist. To find out more about the University of Leeds’ world-leading scientific research, take a look at the latest research news or the Research and Innovation section on the University’s website.

How to apply

Individual, independent artists or collectives working in any discipline are invited to apply for the 2023/24 DARE Art Prize by submitting a CV and a 500-word proposal OR a video (up to a maximum of 5 minutes), that summarises the area of their scientific interest and a genuine wish to engage with academic researchers, expertise and resources at the University of Leeds. Applicants will need to have the right to work in the UK.

All applicants should also fill out the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Monitoring Form.


Applications should be sent to before 9am on Monday 16 October 2023.


As a signatory of Sound and Music’s Fair Access Principles, Opera North, together with all of the DARE Art Prize partners, is keen to attract the widest possible range of artists for the competition. The entry form is available in alternative formats, including Easy Read, Braille, hard copy and audio, and submissions can be accepted via audio or video. If there are additional costs for access needs above the £5,000 dedicated to creating and presenting new work, the DARE Art Prize partners will work with the artist to offer additional support. To discuss any additional needs or how to overcome further barriers to applying, please contact

Selection and interviews

The selection panel comprises, from the University of Leeds, Dr Joanne Crawford, Associate Professor and Head of the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies; John Ladbury, Professor of Mechanistic Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences; Opera North’s Projects Director Dominic Gray, Head of Academic Partnerships Becky Smith and Howard Assembly Room programmer Nishla Smith; Emii Alrai, a freelance artist, trained museum registrar and University of Leeds alumnus; The Tetley’s Exhibitions and Artist Development Curator Georgia Taylor Aguilar; and Head Curator at National Science and Media Museum, Charlotte Connelly.


Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview to discuss their practice and their proposal in greater detail. The provisional date for interviews is Mon 13 November.

Feedback will be available to those shortlisted to interview. This will be available on request and can be shared via email or a phone call. This feedback is based on the selection criteria above and the panellists’ anonymised notes.


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