Programming aimed at Artists

The Bag Factory was founded to support, develop and promote artists. The majority of our programming is aimed at full time practising artists and works to support them in their practise in a number of different ways. Below is a break down of our programming.

Empty-Studio-ImagesThe Bag Factory has 14 Studios that are rented out on a permanent basis. Many of these studios receive subsidised rental and this subsidisation is divided up in order to provide support to the diverse community of artists in our community.  Each level of subsidisation requires the artists to give back to the studios, in terms of time. They are asked to participate in projects, help at events or provide some other service to the space. We do not take unsolicited applications for studio’s and we request that you watch our opportunities page and apply when a call for applications opens up.



The first tier is aimed at emerging artists and will have a three-year cap in terms of the support offered to an artist. After such time, if the artist wishes to stay they will be required to move to the second tier and their rental will be increased to match this. The artist will be expected to provide the Bag Factory with some of their time by participating on certain projects in order to “pay back” the subsidization provided. This is calculated in terms of hours at a rate of R200 per an hour. Artists on tier one will be required to pay back 54 hours of time during the course of the year. There are only 4 studios set aside for this tier.



The second tier is aimed at more mid-career artists and also has a three-year cap. This studio receives slightly less subsidization and at the end of the three years, if the artist would like to remain at the Bag Factory, they would move onto tier three. The artist will be expected to provide the Bag Factory with some their time by participating on certain projects in order to “pay back” the subsidization provided. This is calculated in terms of hours at a rate of R200 per an hour. Artists on tier one will be required to pay back 27 hours of time during the course of the year. There are only 5 studios set aside for this tier.



The third tier does not receive any subsidization. Artists in this category do not have a time limit placed on their time at the Bag Factory. Equally they will not be expected to work for the Bag Factory. There are 5 studios set aside for this tier.

In 1996 the Bag Factory’s vision expanded into the development of an international visiting artists’ programme (VAP). This programme has been extremely successful and enables artists from Africa and other continents to spend time working in Johannesburg, creating networks, participating in and learning about the South African culture whilst showing their work to new audiences. Almost 200 artists from around the world have participated in this programme.


We do not accepted unsolicited applications for this programme and ask that you keep an eye on our opportunities page and apply when a call for applications is opened. This is a partially funded programme that is open to mid-career visual artists, located anywhere in the world.


Should the application be successful, you will partake in a three month programme working in a collective of artists’ studios based in downtown Johannesburg (Fordsburg). The programme offers the opportunity to interact with local artists, to expand your network internationally and to experience a climate of cultural diversity. Working at the studios, you will get to know the resident artists at the Bag Factory, the city of Johannesburg and something about the art world in South Africa. Artists should not expect to profit financially from their stay in South Africa, as this is cultural development programme. There are only 4 such programmes awarded a year with a special call for applications being sent out quarterly.

As a visiting artist you will be expected to

– spend the majority of your stay working at the Bag Factory, interacting with Bag Factory and local artists, and experiencing the city

–  produce new works that will be exhibited at the Bag Factory, in a group exhibition towards the end of your stay.

– stay for the full period (three months)

– complete a written report on your visit

– provide the Bag Factory the opportunity to select one of your works create during the residency which will be used by the organization to ensure its sustainability.

The Bag Factory Artists’ Studios now offers a self funded residence programme. Artists from all over the world have come to the Bag Factory to work with our mix of talented artists and to meet, work, and grow within South Africa’s economic capital. The Bag Factory’s acclaimed visiting artists programme has already proved itself after nearly 200 artists and 20 years of successful events.


Johannesburg is one of the busiest visual-art hubs in Africa. Apart from averaging 3 gallery openings a week, the city is filled with the bustle and momentum that infects artists and audiences alike. The Bag Factory Artists Studios offers artists an amazing opportunity to experience the vibrant visual arts scene of Johannesburg.  This package offers preferential space for professional artists who are able to finance their own visiting artists residency at the Studios for two or more months. The price for this esidency starts at R2500 (approximately US$213) per a week. This includes accommodation arranged on your behalf, in a reasonable proximity to the Bag Factory as well as studio space at the Bag Factory and a facilitation of your stay whilst in the city.


If you wish to apply for this please send the following to

– a representative portfolio of work produced in the past five years of at least 10 works and no more than 20, preferably by email. Please keep images no larger than 300kb and each email no larger than 2MB.

– a curriculum vitae with full names, references, addresses and contact numbers

– a brief letter of motivation, not more than one A4 page long, outlining reasons for wishing to join the programme

– a recent photograph

– details of sources of funding

– preferred period of residency (date and year)

Applications are assessed every 6-8 weeks and we suggest that you apply at least 6 months in advance of your stay.

Fulcrum Suzanne Shaw Creative Award 

The award has been created to celebrate the life of Suzanne Shaw, who at the same time as being a valued team member of the Fulcrum Group, had an unwavering devotion to the visuals arts, with a special interest in the field of curatorship. It is our collective vision that this award contributes to the growth of arts and artists in our country, and while doing so serves to honour the life and passions of Suzanne Shaw.

Cassirer Welz Award

The Cassirer Award, funded by art auctioneers Strauss & Co, the award offers an emerging South African artist, in the field of drawing or painting, under the age of 35 the opportunity to spend 10 weeks at the Bag Factory’s studios. The award was founded by the late Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer in celebration of her husband Reinhold Cassirer’s love of the arts.

The award provides the recipient with the opportunity to interact with the resident artists at the Bag Factory and through the exchange of ideas, mentorship and skills development, the artist has an opportunity for substantial creative and professional growth.

The David Koloane Award 

The David Koloane Award is a celebration of the life and career of Dr. David Koloane, internationally respected artist, curator, writer and founder of the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios.

In a fast changing world there are a variety of skills that artists often need in order to function on a professional level. The PSW’s are independent workshops that offer artists skills that are vital to their survival in the competitive visual arts environment. These could  range from basic photoshop skills, to appreciating contracts, to proposal or biographic writing. By assisting the artists to develop these skills the Bag Factory aims to create a visual artists who are less dependent on agencies or galleries in the development and sale of their own work. This reliance often stifles the sector, leaving artists lost as to how to get involved in community projects or apply for government funding.

Curatorial Development Programme.

Provides an aspiring curator with the opportunity to understand the end to end production of the exhibition process.

The selected participant will be expected to work with professional curators to hone their proposal, select artists to participate on the exhibition, monitor the production of work, market and drive publicity for the artists and exhibition, price the works, hang the exhibition and finally make sales.