ArtULTRA supports the development of emerging artists and artistic projects in order to create a more diverse and vibrant art world. ArtULTRA was launched in 2021 by Alice Black, former director of London’s Design Museum. ArtULTRA provides curatorial services, commissions artworks on behalf of clients, sells art and works with artists to enable them develop resilience and sustainable careers. Through its digital platform, it gives emerging artists access to an extensive database of opportunities and publishes monthly artist features.
The genesis of ArtULTRA
ArtULTRA was created out of the desire to provide support for artists at a time of great need. It began as blue sky thinking by Alice Black during the first lockdown in 2020, when reflecting on the impact of the Covid crisis on the Arts and on the limited support offered directly to individual artists, she spent time researching this topic, through conversations with a diverse group of early career artists. Thanks to Amanda Fernandez and her artist collective FerArts, who gave their time and voiced honest, insightful opinions about their situation, about 200 artists between the ages of 18 and 34 contributed to this research either via interviews, focus groups or social media.
This research identified that artists need (first and foremost!) money to allow them to live while practicing. In order to carry out research, develop new ideas, buy equipment, buy books or visit exhibitions – funding is mission critical. Other needs include having access to space to practice freely; and having somewhere to turn to, in order to receive support on business matters such as contract, IP, networking skills etc. Next, access to a network, mentoring, and short courses to hone in on a specific skill are highly valued. Last, but not least, having greater visibility: either by taking part in exhibitions, knowing how to cut through social media, or being shown in a different type of venue - any opportunity to be seen in a new context and by a varied audience, matters.
This led to the creation of ArtULTRA. In its first stage, ArtULTRA is focusing on identifying existing grants aimed directly at artists as well as studio spaces and residency programmes available to them. Free access to this resource is provided here. In time, ArtULTRA aims to become an accelerator for early career artists, providing exhibition, mentoring, networking, business insights and professional development opportunities.
Meet the team
Business & Product Development / Photographer
Prior to founding ArtULTRA in January 2021, Alice led the Design Museum in London for 12 years, spearheading the move of the museum from east London to Kensington. Alice is member of the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board, the British Library Advisory Committee and of the New Museum of London Project Board.
Alice graduated from ESSEC Business School and started her career in New York in the financial sector, before moving to London in 1998 and dedicating herself to a career in the cultural sector.
Paola graduated from the Urban School of Sciences Politiques Paris in 2016, working for three years as an auditor, before deciding to turn her passion for photography into a career. Today, Paola is a member of Hans Lucas, an agency dedicated to documentary photography and photojournalism. She has published two photo reportages in Benin: one with the association Gbobètô, laureate of the Yves Rocher Foundation 2021 Prize "Terre de Femmes"; the other documenting the cult of revenants in the Voodoo religion.
Researcher / Artist
Bea is a Cambridge University graduate and holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, for which she was awarded the 2020 Director’s Prize for her dissertation. She is currently studying for an MA at the Slade School of Arts. Her artistic practice explores narrativity, dream-scenarios and solitude. As an art historian and art journalist, Beatriz is interested in contemporary British art engaging with themes of diaspora and ecology.
Amanda supports ArtULTRA in the delivery of artistic projects. With over 15 years of experience in the art world, Amanda is the founder of FerArts, an artist collective dedicated to foregrounding artists from diverse backgrounds.
Amanda has a wealth of experience in developing, curating and delivering artistic programmes rooted in the emerging and community art scene.
Emma is studying for an MA in Contemporary Literature, Culture, and Theory at KCL. Her dissertation on experimental poetry and Marxist feminist theory, explores the constitution of the procreative body through the organisation of labour and the household. As an interdisciplinary cultural researcher, Emma is interested in creative practice that brings vast histories and structures into intimate, everyday spaces and in aesthetic imaginings of alternative social forms.
Alessandra graduated from La Sapienza university in Rome, where she studied architecture and interior design as well as painting and sculpture. Alessandra currently works as an interior architect in an international design practice, while pursuing her research as a painter. In her artistic practice, she uses nature and animals as reference points to create organic abstract compositions.