• Funding Sources

    Project funding, research and travel grants

    Below is a small list of funding sources either dedicated or open to contemporary circus, concentrating on opportunities which can benefit UK-based artists. Some are open for rolling applications, others announce funding rounds that have application deadlines. You may also want to look through Sideshow's Jobs & Opportunities page, as some one-off sources of funding (such as commissions) will be listed there.

    If you'd like to receive a monthly newsletter that includes a reminder of upcoming funding deadlines (it'll look something like this) then you can sign-up using the form to the right below the Deadlines block.

    Akademie Schloss Solitude

    Running 45 live-work studios from within a former military academy / ducal hunting lodge and summer residence known as Castle Solitude, The Akademie Schloss Solitude is a foundation offering an interdisciplinary, international fellowship program for individual artists and scientists.

    Akiyoshidai International Art Village

    Each year Akiyoshidai International Art Village, an arts complex set within a national park in Japan, opens a call for international transdisciplinary residencies.

    The residency has a different theme each year, but the core principle is to 'provide a time and place for artists to experience new encounters and carry out experiments to guide their future projects' and to support artists to 'go beyond cultural borders and expand their outlooks, exchange their unique understandings and establish relationships with fellow artists'.

    Arts Council England

    The Artists' International Development Fund is a joint initiative between Arts Council England and the British Council to support individual artists based in England to work internationally.

    The programme offers early stage development opportunities for individual freelance and self-employed artists based in England to spend time building links with artists, organisations and/or creative producers in another country.

    The fund is open for a three-year period 2012-2015, with three application deadlines each year. Grants can be applied for within the £1000-5000 range.

    Centre International des Récollets

    Managed by the City of Paris and the Institut Français, the Centre International des Récollets is a prestigious venue that offers residencies to established artists and researchers from around the world.

    Cirkus Cirkör

    Cirkör LAB is a platform for national and international circus artists, companies and other artists acting in the circus sphere. Alongside a programme of masterclasses, workshops and seminars, Cirkör LAB runs a year-round international residency programme supporting both short- and long-term stays.

    Daiwa Foundation

    The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation is a UK charity that supports closer links between Britain and Japan. The Foundation has a number of activities, among them the provision of grants to support projects in visual and performing arts (as well as many other fields).

    Emma Insley Aerial Creation Fund

    The Emma Insley Aerial Creation Fund is an annual award of £2000 established in 2009 to support the development of a new aerial performance.

    Individuals or groups based in the UK can apply for the award to support the creation of an aerial piece not longer than 15 minutes. The award 'can be used on any or all aspects of performance development e.g. aerial direction, costume music choreography space hire movement or a piece of equipment. However the main emphasis of your application should be the development of the act as a whole.'

    Arts Council England

    Grants for the Arts (aka G4A) is the main project funding scheme of Arts Council England. Open to individuals and organisations planning activities that will 'engage people in England in arts activities' or 'help artists and arts organisations in England carry out their work', G4A only supports time-limited projects — those with a clear beginning and end.


    Ideas Fund Innovators is a regular small grant programme run by the website IdeasTap. Four times a year awards of £500 are offered to artists in all disciplines who need support to produce an 'inspiring, original, innovative' project.


    Each year IdeasTap, in partnership with Underbelly, supports a small number of performing arts projects to appear at an Underbelly venue during the Edinburgh Fringe.

    A total pot of £25,000 is divvied up between 2-6 projects to contribute towards the costs of each production, while Underbelly provides space and mentoring/marketing support.

    International Performing Arts Exchange

    The International Performing Arts Exchange programme provides grants for guest performances and network-building within the field of performing arts, and promotes exchange between Danish and international artists.

    The scheme doesn't fund residency or research activities, but can be accessed to support international performances on Danish soil, the invitation of international artists to perform within Danish productions, and visits to the country for networking/programming activities.

    National Centre for Circus Arts

    Run by the National Centre for Circus Arts, Lab:time is a programme to support early-stage work and R&D through free space and small grants (up to £1500, but usually between £500-800) in four separate strands: Space:time (use of the Creation Studio), Team:time (funds to bring new collaborators into a research process), Tech:time (funds for the purchase or development of new equipment), and High:time (funds to pay for a rigger to support R&D). Applicants can mix and match and apply for a single strand, or to combinations, or to all four.

    Lisa Ullmann Travelling Scholarship Fund

    The Lisa Ullmann Travelling Scholarship Fund supports individuals working in all areas of movement and dance who wish to travel in order to enrich their practice and pursue a personal passion.

    The fund welcomes applications from choreographers, performers, lecturers/teachers, writers, therapists, administrators and related professionals. The average grant size is around £600, although very occasionally larger awards are made.

    No Strings Attached

    Run by Farnham Maltings, No Strings Attached is a rolling grant scheme that awards grants of between £500 and £1000 to young people to help them make their first piece of theatre. Successful applicants are also paired with an experienced mentor.

    No Strings Attached is open to artists aged 18-25 who live in the South East of England. Applications can come from individuals or groups, but you must not have previously received an arts grant.

    Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award

    Started in 2003 to support the development of emerging theatre practitioners engaged in 'bold, challenging and innovative performance', each year the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award supports a company or individual to create a show either for the Barbican's Pit Theatre, or a site-responsive, non-traditional show taking place in East London.

    Arts Council England

    Re:Imagine India is a joint project between Arts Council England and the British Council, supporting artistic exchange and collaboration between artists, arts organisations and museums in India and England.

    The purpose of this project is to 'create new work and to build sustainable networks and partnerships between artists and cultural leaders in both countries, as well as to develop an intercultural dialogue and strengthened cultural relations based on this exchange of ideas, knowledge, work and artistic practice'.

    Roberto Cimetta Fund

    The Roberto Cimetta Fund awards travel grants to artists and cultural managers who wish to travel in order to develop contemporary artistic cooperation projects in the Euro-Mediterranean region, and in particular throughout the Arab world.

    Russian Theatre Life in Brief

    Russian Theatre Life in Brief, an information portal for the performing arts in Russia, runs a flexible travel grant scheme to advance cross-border projects between Russia and Europe.

    Open to all performing arts professionals, the scheme is designed to fund individual travel to and from Russia for festivals, showcases, conferences, workshop attendance, and research trips, and is open to those from the list of eligible countries.

    Sky Arts Futures Fund

    The Sky Arts Futures Funds is an annual programme that awards five £30,000 bursaries to artists aged 18-30 from the UK and Ireland.

    The grant essentially operates like a salary, funding the recipient artist for one year of (financially stable) work. Successful applicants will also be paired with mentors, provided by Sky, to help them develop their networks, skills and knowledge in the arts and commercial sectors.

    Step Beyond Travel Grants

    Established in 2003, the STEP Beyond programme funds up-and-coming artists and cultural workers — with a priority on individuals up to 35 years and/or in the first 10 years of their career — to travel between the EU and countries bordering the EU.

    The Awesome Foundation

    The Awesome Foundation is an 'ever-growing, worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe'. In pursuit of this goal it distributes a series of monthly $1000 grants to projects and their creators.

    The Fulbright Program

    While principally supporting students and academic lecturers/researchers, the Fulbright Program does also support artistic exchange under its Foreign Student Program, which 'offers opportunities for foreign graduate students, young professionals and artists from abroad to study and conduct research' within the United States.

    The Saison Foundation

    Privately founded by Seiji Tsutsumi, a major business magnate who from middle age has also managed to pursue a successful career as a writer and poet, The Saison Foundation offers long-term, broad-based support to contemporary Japanese theatre and dance.

    The Saison Foundation

    As one of the Foundation's goals is to foster international exchange it runs a Visiting Fellows Programme which supports 'research visits to Japan for those who are expected to play an important role in the international performing arts scene'.

    The Space

    Set-up by the BBC and Arts Council England, The Space is a platform for digital art which, alongside its partners and co-commissioners, invests at least £5 million per year in new commissions.

    The Space publishes regular Open Calls that invite artists to pitch digital artworks, and in the past has funded many projects that have a performance focus (including the documentary series Circus Post, and a film of Circa's How Like An Angel).

    Artists applying for The Space must be over 18, but can come from anywhere in the world.

    Wellcome Trust

    The Wellcome Trust is a (huge) charitable foundation that supports biomedical research and the medical humanities. As well as supporting all branches of academic research, the Trust has an ongoing grant programme to support artistic projects that integrate 'biomedical scientific input' (with this often taking the form of an artist/group working on a project with the collaboration of one or more scientific advisors).