11 March 2020


We are seeking artists over the age of 60 who identify as women, and who have an interest in or were involved in radical social and cultural changes. We would like to hear from artists from any artistic discipline.


Developed by SICK! Festival (UK) and Wildwuchs (Switzerland), and funded by Pro Helvetia, Old Devils is an international conversation about women, ageing and radicalism. The project brings together members of an older generation of women who were associated with radical changes in culture and society in the 1960s, 70s and 80s in the UK and Switzerland. Working towards two major new performance commissions for presentation in 2021-22, artists from the UK and Switzerland will explore the role of protest, activism, sub-cultural movements, the arts and loud music in areas including feminism, race relations and LGBTQI+ identity. Starting in Spring 2020, artists from the UK and Switzerland will work with representatives of these social and cultural movements from this radical generation living in Manchester and Basel.

The Process


The process will begin with two 2-day laboratory events, one in Basel and one in Manchester. Each Lab will bring together a group of women artists from the UK and Switzerland with 8-10 participants who were involved in radical movements of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and who contributed to the social and cultural changes of the time. The laboratory programme will incorporate presentations, provocations, discussions and collaborative exercises, and is designed to generate potential concepts for commissioned projects. The laboratory programmes will be documented in audio and video content.

The first lab takes place in Basel:

Basel Lab: 23rd – 25th April 2020

We are looking for two UK-based artists to take part in an Artists Research Lab in Basel Switzerland kicking off the Old Devils project. Participation in the lab is a paid opportunity. We are seeking artists from any art form, aged over 60 years who feel a particular affinity with radical movements now and in the past. The Lab will be an opportunity to talk and share ideas with artists and other individuals involved in radical social and cultural movements from the UK and Switzerland. Whilst participation in the Lab does not guarantee involvement in the resulting commission, we do anticipate that the commissioned works will emerge from some or all of the cohort of artist we bring together, working collectively or in new collaborations established during the Lab event.

Attending artists will receive a fee of £600.

Travel and accommodation costs will be covered.

The second lab will take place in Manchester, dates TBC. Participation in the second lab will also include a fee of £600, travel and accommodation.


Following the laboratories, participating artists will be invited to submit concept for development as commissions for presentation in 2021. These may be developed by individual artists or collaborations between participatory artists. Two projects will be commissioned, broadly speaking, one UK-led and one Swiss-led. Projects will be developed over the period June 2020 – May 2021.

We will prioritise projects that:

  • Respond to the conceptual frame of Old Devils as set out above
  • Reflect the specific, lived experiences of people in Manchester and Basel
  • Are developed in dialogue with communities and/or artists in Manchester and Basel
  • Have potential to engage a broad, diverse audience
  • Be able to demonstrate significant potential legacy and/or impact for participating individuals and communities

We are seeking artists whose practice reflects these priorities.


Commissioned works will be premiered at Wildwuchs Festival, Basel (May 2021) and/or SICK! Festival, Manchester (March 2022).

Wildwuchs: Wildwuchs overcomes boundaries through performance, dance and theatre in and around Basel. The festival brings social issues to the fore and promotes everyone’s participation in artistic, social and political processes. Wildwuchs consistently develops its artistic, content and mediating approaches. The Wildwuchs label stands for people who are otherwise rarely heard or seen, who are not known and whose topics find little space in the social discussion. Accordingly, the experiences and opinions of these people are of immanent importance for the festival as well as for all other activities of the association and are integrated in the implementation. Wildwuchs will act as lead producer and presenter of the Swiss commission. https://www.wildwuchs.ch

SICK! Festival: SICK! Festival faces up to the complexities of mental and physical health. We present an outstanding international arts programme, weaving in perspectives from researchers, clinical practitioners, public health professionals, charities and those with lived experience of the issues we address. Themes are explored through many art forms – dance, theatre, film, spoken word – and through discussion and debate. We present and commission powerful, innovative and engaging work by artists from across Manchester, the UK and the world.  We take the conversation into the heart of the communities where the subjects matter most as well as major cultural venues. SICK! Festival will act as lead producer and presenter of the UK commission.


Basel Laboratory24-25 April 2020
Manchester LaboratorySummer 2020
Selection of projects for Swiss commissionMay – June 2020
Selection of projects for UK commissionAutumn 2020
Development of Swiss commissionMay 2020 – May 2021
Development of UK commissionAutumn 2020 – March 2022
Wildwuchs FestivalMay 2021
SICK! FestivalMarch 2022


If you are interested, please contact Steve Vickers to arrange an informal conversation by Monday 30th March. steve@sickfestival.com