Creative opportunities, groups and competitions

When I started Durham University in 2019, I aimed to join everything I could. As a Liberal Arts student, I was already spread across different departments academically but wanted to explore the creative options that the university and Durham City had to offer. Now I’m entering fourth year and have my definitive list of the top opportunities, creative communities and competitions to get involved with as both a Fresher and a returning student. 

  1. Durham University Art Society (DUAS)

DUAS has to be number one for all my fellow artists. Through offering both members and non-members space, resources and classes in visual arts it has unrivalled popularity. They have four main branches:

  • Weekly Tuesday life-drawing sessions (BIG RECOMMENDATION!) 
  • Weekly Thursday themes classes
  • Free art-room space and basic materials for members
  • Workshops and events in the local area 

The best bit of DUAS is you don’t need any art experience – I’d really recommend it if you’re keen to meet other creatives. Check DUAS out:

  1. Student Art Prize 

The Student Art Prize launched in 2019 with the aim of expanding opportunities within the creative community in Durham alongside creating a new permanent student art collection. Each year a new theme is released and all artistic media is considered, including performance, photography and film. 

The prize fund is supported by Durham alumni and first place is an insane £1500! That in itself is a huge incentive to apply. Check out all the information for the student art prize here:

  1. Durham University Charity Fashion Show (DUCFS)

Founded in 1983 DUCFS is one of the largest initiatives in Durham that is fully orchestrated and designed by Durham uni students. Whilst the actual show takes place over three nights in February, the brand operates year-round to celebrate and use the creative talent in Durham to support the campaign. Here are some ways you can get involved with DUCFS: 

  • Apply for the creative roles on the executive committee; such as photographer, videographer, graphic designer etc. 
  • Join the college rep team (you can do this as a fresher!) 
  • Volunteer to work the three show dates in February

DUCFS has the resources, reputation and connections to really help you blossom as a creative and is a fully worthwhile initiative to join. Check out DUCFS on insta @ducfs. 

  1. Indigo (Palatinate)

Indigo is Palatinate’s art and lifestyle magazine and is a great platform to develop creative writing, illustration, photography etc. Any student can be a part of Palatinate and the process to get published and involved is super easy; just drop your proposition via email to the relevant section editor. For Indigo this is 

The coolest part about writing for Indigo is Palatinate still handout copies of the monthly paper which will contain your article or drawing and you can boast to all your friends that you’re an officially published writer. 

  1. Kemble Gallery & Art Shop

The Kemble is an independent gallery and art shop in the centre of Durham right next to Pizza Express. With three floors of art supplies and work from local artists it’s the perfect art hub for students. The staff are all artists themselves and are lovely and so incredibly helpful for all your random questions and queries. 

I’d really recommend supporting their business and checking out their blog, instagram and website:

It’s a complete lie that Durham lacks creative communities – there’s so much going on and a whole range of different things to get involved with. DUCFS, DUAS and Indigo will all be at the University Freshers Fair in freshers week so if you’re wanting to find out a little bit more information just pop down to the stalls and speak to the committee members.

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