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Holmfirth Arts Festival 21 (22).HEIC

Image of Tom Holman Sheard performing Leaving Holme, SSMC inaugural commission at HAF21

Our Inspiration for creating this commission


Steve Sykes 1950- 2020. Chair of Holmfirth Arts Festival 2016-2020


Steve Sykes was the dynamic and inspirational chair of Holmfirth Arts Festival from 2016 until he died suddenly after a stroke in 2020. He steered the organisation with drive, imagination and humour with his calm, inclusive leadership inspiring a large group of volunteers.


Steve was born and bred in the Holme Valley and never ceased to wonder at the beauty of its landscape. Nature and music were his lifelong passions. He was an accomplished guitarist and saxophonist who loved collaborating with others to put on live, creative events. He was a man who loved to garden and construct things.  He calmly and quietly made things happen, encouraging and enabling people of all ages to be creative with music and the landscape.


Holmfirth Arts Festival – Creativity in the Landscape

Taking inspiration from its unique location in the Pennine foothills of West Yorkshire, Holmfirth Arts Festival celebrates creativity in the landscape by:

  • Commissioning new work and supporting diverse artists

  • Inspiring diverse communities to engage with the arts and their heritage

  • Caring for the environment

  • Connecting locally, regionally and internationally


Our Values underpin how we work across all aspects of our organisation including programming, commissioning and working with each other.

  • CREATE - nurture creativity in all forms

  • CELEBRATE - people and place

  • CARE – be welcoming, mindful of each other and custodians of our environment

  • CONNECT - people to each other and to the places they live


The Commission 


In this second year of the Steve Sykes Memorial Commission we are seeking to commission a new piece of art that responds to the people and places of the Holme Valley and is performed or sited in the Holme Valley landscape, whilst reflecting our aims and values.  The art form is up to you.  It can be one of the performing arts (music, theatre, dance etc) or visual art (including installation and multimedia).


The commission is open to young and emergent artists either based in, or with clear connections through work or family, to the Holme Valley.


We have no fixed idea of the genre of art that will be produced, but it needs to be appropriate and accessible for a wide ranging and diverse audience to include young people, older people and people with protected characteristics.


We are seeking a presentation of this work that, if performative, will be between 30 minutes and 1 hour in length. Durational and installation work is also acceptable.  We will also consider existing new works that have not previously been publicly performed.


The commission is open to solo artists and collaborating ensembles.  

The commissioned artists may use audio visual aids or other performance genres as part of the performance, within the offered commission fee.


The commission will include 1 performance/installation of the new piece at Holmfirth Arts Festival at date/s to be agreed between 16 and 19 June 2022 at a location chosen by you. 

We are particularly interested in applications from people from diverse ethnic backgrounds or that identify as having one or more protected characteristics defined by the Equality Act 2010.


Our offer


Holmfirth Arts Festival is offering a fee of £2000 to include VAT and all costs associated with the commission, including presentation of the new work at Holmfirth Arts Festival on between 16 and 19 June 2022 (see above) 


Support and guidance during the creation of your commission from Holmfirth Arts Festival Director.


Billing and promotion of your commission in our 2022 Festival brochure (13,000 print run), website, social media, press and broadcast media. 


Technical production of the presentation of your commission at the 2022 Festival.

How to apply


Look through our website, videos, past festival programmes to get a feel for what we do. 


Respond to our aims, themes and values.


Explain your idea and how you intend to achieve it. Explain the genre of art, the materials to be used and the intended length of the new work.


Tell us about your connection to Holmfirth and/or the Holme Valley. 


Tell us what has inspired you about the Holme Valley landscape, its people and places and how you intend to reflect this through the commission.


Explain your idea for presenting  the new commission at the Festival in June  including number of performers, site and technical requirements. Please note - our technical resources are limited and our budget for producing this new work is small.


Tell us about your experience as an artist to date and please send samples of previous work as links and/or videos.


Apply in writing (up to two sides of A4) or by video of up to 5 mins.  Send your submission by email to by midnight Sunday 13 March 2022 .

What happens next?


We will shortlist in the week commencing Monday 14 March 2022 and invite shortlisted candidates to an interview by the end of that week in Holmfirth (or by zoom if needed).


The interview panel will include Lesley Sykes (Joint Chair of Festival Supporters and Steve’s widow), Bev Adams (Director, Holmfirth Arts Festival), and Grant Lowe  (Board member, Freelance Creative Producer and former Visitor Experience Officer, National Trust). 


The creation of the work can start as soon as contracts are signed.


We will schedule check in points with you during the process.


We expect the commission to be created by the first week of June 2022 so that the new work can be prepared for presentation/installed for 16-19 June.

Please feel free to contact Bev Adams should you have any questions. Please be aware that Bev is currently working away in the USA so there will be a short delay before you receive a reply.  Please email Natasha, Festival Manager, if your enquiry is urgent.

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