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Image: Nkisi at Café OTO. Photography by Jonathan Crabb.

Live Work Fund

The Live Work Fund call for entries is now closed.

Thank you to everybody who applied. The assessment process is now under way, and all applicants will be notified of the outcome on Thursday 10 December.


What is the Live Work Fund?

This new fund, worth £660k, will support at least 33 exceptional individuals over 12 months with awards of £20,000 to adapt their approach to making and sharing live work. It is for artists, creatives and producers with no more than ten years’ experience, based anywhere in the UK, whose practice pre-Covid-19 focused and relied on live performance. This includes those with artistic/creative practices based in music, theatre, opera, circus, dance, live art and performance as well as those who work in the gaps between these disciplines. Around half of the funding will go to music creators.

The Live Work Fund brings together Jerwood Arts, Wolfson Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Linbury Trust, four independent funders who share a common aim to substantially support individuals whose work relies on live performance following the impact of Covid-19. We understand the pandemic currently makes it hard to imagine a positive future in the arts, but we strongly believe that artists/creatives hold the key to discovering and forging new ways forward. We are committed to a vibrant future for live work and to ensuring that right across the country outstanding artists, creatives and producers are able to transform and develop their practice to survive and thrive.

The Live Work Fund is designed to help prevent exceptional talent of all backgrounds from abandoning the development of their practice due to the impact of Covid-19 and create the space for reflection and experimentation. It will provide substantial support throughout 2021 to enable the selected artists, creatives and producers to take the time to think ambitiously about how they can adapt their artistic/creative practice and make a vital contribution to the future of their artistic/creative community.

Awardees will also be able to call upon Jerwood Arts expert staff for advice and introductions, and established artist/creative mentors and other experts will be available to support career development, answer discipline-specific questions and signpost opportunities.

This information is also available as an Audio Recording or in an Easy Read version.


Blog: You can read a blog about why we created the fund here.

Q&A Event: On 3 November 2020 we held an introductory event with Director Lilli Geissendorfer and Deputy Director Jon Opie, facilitated by Kamaljit Poonia. This was a live Q&A session which covered a range of key areas relating to the opportunity and the application process. The event has BSL interpretation and subtitles. You can watch the event back here.


Key dates

22 October 2020 Fund opens for applications
5pm, 16 November 2020 Deadline for applications
10 December 2020 All applicants notified
18 December 2020 Funding paid to successful individuals
January 2021 – December 2021 Year of supported activity, including mentoring
Early 2021 Awardees publicly announced
January 2022 Evaluation: reflections from supported artists/creatives


Selection Process

The assessors will consider applications based on the following criteria:

  • The quality and track record of the artist/creative(s) existing practice, including examples of research, performances and projects in the last 18 months
  • The vision and ideas of the proposed plans for 2021
  • The potential impact of the fund on the professional development of the artists/creative(s) practice
  • The potential impact of the artists/creative(s) work on their artistic/creative community and wider artform in navigating Covid-19

All applications will be assessed by two Jerwood Arts Artist Advisers. A longlist of approximately 200 applications will be taken forward and assessed by four Artist Advisers and Jerwood Arts staff members Lilli Geissendorfer (Director), Sarah Gibbon (Project Manager) and Jon Opie (Deputy Director). From these, the 33 awardees will be selected.

We take seriously the role bias can play throughout the selection process and give guidance to all assessors. In reading applications, they will start with the statements of track record, practice and the proposal, before looking at examples of work and websites. This means that an individual’s name is often one of the last things that an assessor will read. We do not attach other information which may create bias such as geographic location and other personal details.

Throughout the selection process, we will prioritise the assessors’ judgement of the quality of applicant’s practice, vision and ideas, and potential for impact beyond their own practice. We also introduce information such as artform, location and monitoring information at the longlisting/shortlisting stage to note any percentage variances with the total pool of applicants. Where two or more equally strong applications are in play, we may choose to recommend the applications that will result in a more balanced, representative and inclusive longlist/shortlist for consideration at the next stage.



All applicants will be notified of the outcome on 10 December 2020. For unsuccessful applicants, the email will contain general information about the response to the fund, trends we found and the process we used to make decisions. They will then be able to request specific written feedback on their application by 6 January 2020. This feedback will be a summary of the assessment against the criteria above. Please note, with the Christmas/New Year break and our small team, we will endeavour to send individual feedbacks by the end of February 2021.


Vision and ideas: what is the fund looking to support?

If you have a bold vision for how you could adapt and sustain your artistic/creative practice, and ideas for how you might achieve it over the coming 12 months, then this could be the fund for you.

We are looking for innovative proposals from individuals or collaborations for how to use this supported year to transform your practice(s) to thrive in a changing future and make a positive contribution to your artistic/creative community.

We want the fund to create the space for you to learn, make connections, participate, experiment, take time and enable you to use 2021 to build a new foundation for your practice. We are hoping to support a generation of visionary ideas that can mark a new beginning for live work. We aim for it to be transformative for those selected and, in turn, the wider arts sector.

The want the fund to reduce the financial pressure on you to fundraise or earn money from other jobs. The awardees will be free to choose how the funding is spent, including towards personal living costs as well as supporting artistic/creative activities. We are committed to improving equality, diversity and inclusion in the arts through this fund.

We want to enable a diverse range of distinctive and powerful visions for a different future to be set in motion through the fund. We are not looking for applications for single project ideas and do not necessarily expect to see performance or digital outcomes; we are more interested in the long-term impact on your practice and influence in your artistic/creative community.

Possible activities might include:

  • Testing and experimenting: for example with new ways of workshopping, rehearsing, composing, creating and devising
  • Developing new skills: for example in digital tech, techniques, methods
  • Developing new networks: for example practice specific, peer-learning and support
  • Developing new relationships with audiences: for example, exploring ideas about audience engagement

Possible outcomes could include:

  • Created new work and collaborated with others in new ways
  • Found new ways of working within Covid-19 restrictions
  • Created new and safe spaces for new live performance-based work to happen, including outside
  • Set up and/or supported new artistic/creative communities, made new connections and shared learning and discoveries with peers
  • Created a bold new direction for your practice, including setting out new lines of enquiry or research focus
  • Changed the scale of your work, downsizing as well as scaling up
  • Deepened your skills and understanding of the role that digital can play in your practice
  • Re-conceptualised what you think of as your audience and how to engage with them

These suggestions are not exhaustive and we encourage you to propose the right ideas for your practice.


Who is the fund for?

There is no educational requirement or age limit.

We welcome applications from individual artists, creatives and producers, and those who have an established collaborative practice, who:

  • Are freelance/independent artists/creatives*
  • Have live performance at the heart of their practice, including in music, theatre, opera, circus, dance, live art and those who work in the gaps between these disciplines.*
  • Think of their practice as including one or more of the following: acting, choreographing, composing (primarily for live performance), designing (set, sound, video and lighting for the stage/live performance), devising, directing, facilitating, movement work, performing, producing, writing (primarily for the stage/live performance).
  • Have a professional track record with their practice in the arts and have worked professionally within the last 18 months. This includes the track record of a group if applying collaboratively. We anticipate that many will have struggled to find paid work during lockdown and may not have examples from their practice in the last nine months.*
  • Are no more than ten years into beginning their professional artistic/creative practice at the time of applying. This means they consider the beginning of their professional artistic/creative practice to have started after November 2010, and no later November 2019, unless there has been a career break for health or care reasons.*
  • Are based in the UK and have the legal right to work in the UK, and have the intention to continue residence within the UK until January 2022. You do not need to have British nationality.*
  • Have a professional track record with their practice in the arts and have worked professionally within the last 18 months. This includes the track record of a group if applying collaboratively. We anticipate that many will have struggled to find paid work during lockdown and may not have examples from their practice in the last nine months.*

We are sorry to confirm that the following are not eligible for the Live Work Fund:

  • Anyone who is undertaking full or part-time formal education at any point between January 2021 and January 2022 (including dissertation writing)*
  • Proposals that include activity taking place outside of the UK in 2021
  • Proposals which focus on visual arts practices, literature and film making
  • Proposals from or on behalf of organisations
  • Proposals which focus on any other practice not typically supported by Jerwood Arts
  • Proposals from those whose practice is primarily stage management, technical management, production management, promotion, marketing, fundraising and/or administratively led.

* This includes all members of a group if applying collaboratively.

We have also created a ‘Is this fund right for me?’ quiz to help you decide if the fund is right for you. You should be able to answer all questions in the quiz ‘yes’ with confidence if this fund is right for you. The application form will appear at the end of the quiz.

There is more detail about who the fund is for in the FAQ. If you have further questions about your suitability for the fund, feel free to email us at and we will get back to you within three working days. Please see below for more details of how we can support you to make an application.



We asked applicants to invite two referees to support their application. Referees were asked to provide a 100-word statement in support of the application. We asked for references to include information about how they know the applicant and their practice, and their potential to make the most of the award.

A commonly reported problem in the arts is that you have to be known by the right people to get funding and opportunities. Often this is because those in positions of power reward people known to them or want to avoid risks. Our intention is that our processes are genuinely open and we want to support voices new to us through the Live Work Fund.

Applicants were encouraged to choose someone who knew them and their work well, rather than someone who looks impressive on paper. We suggested this would make them well placed to provide feedback on their strengths and the potential of the applicant’s artistic/creative practice. We were keen to hear from the applicant’s peers where possible, and suggested that one of their referees should be someone with whom they had, as recently as possible, worked with previously. In both cases we felt it was important they ask someone who knew them, who understands the applicants practice and its potential, and who could identify how this fund will benefit them and the wider sector.


Equality, diversity and inclusion

Jerwood Arts is committed to addressing equality, diversity and inclusion across all our work, and you can find details of our latest actions here.

The sector is experiencing one of the highest levels of loss of work in the face of Covid-19: the personal impact of this is often devastating; the loss of skilled and talented people permanently a very real worry for the future. The pandemic has disproportionately impacted the health and livelihoods of people from African, Caribbean, LatinX or South and East Asian heritage, those with disabilities or long-term health conditions, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and those facing intersecting barriers. These groups were already under-represented in the live music and performance sector and most likely to experience racism and marginalisation.

For the Live Work Fund, we therefore particularly welcome applications from anyone from the groups above. We will be focusing our marketing efforts to engage with networks and organisations representing these communities and will also encourage applications from Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the North East and North West which have been under-represented in our recent funding opportunities.

Actions we have taken to make our support to applicants more inclusive and accessible include providing comprehensive guidance and FAQs, which are also available as an audio recording. You can find this information in Easy Read here. We created a more equitable application form, with no requirement for CVs and the choice to submit video/audio applications. We also offered 1:1 advice and provide individual access support.

The assessment and selection process will be undertaken by paid Artist Advisers and Jerwood Arts staff members, who have received bias awareness training and will endeavour to ensure that all applicants are treated equitably. The final selection will be made by a panel of seven; three Jerwood Arts members of staff and four Artist Advisers chosen for their experience, background and art form specialism.


Application making advice

We are committed to making our opportunities accessible and the application experience as user-friendly as we can. This is part of our ongoing work to welcome and encourage applicants facing barriers to apply. We are also particularly keen to support first-time applicants to Jerwood Arts.

We are happy to receive emails to with questions. We will acknowledge your email within three working days and aim to answer your question within five working days.

We also offered the opportunity to speak with a member of the Jerwood Arts team for a ten-minute advice session in advance of applying. In these sessions, we are unable to read draft applications or texts, but we can discuss your specific ideas for applications and guide you as to how you might strengthen these in the application. Please email with the questions you would like to discuss and your phone number to book an advice session.

Please note that the advice we give on making an application is on the eligibility and suitability of your proposal and will have no bearing on its assessment. You do not need to have spoken to a Jerwood Arts member of staff before making an application.


Meeting your access requirements

An audio recording of the application guidance and this FAQ is available here. You can also find an Easy Read version here.


Access Support Worker

We contributed up to £200 towards a fee for Access Support Worker for applicants who needed one.

Audio and video applications

The online application portal provided the opportunity for applications to be made as an audio or video recording if preferred. Applicants were invited to make a recording of the key components of the proposal. We ask applicants to complete contact details and an equal opportunities monitoring form in written form to assist the processing of applications. No assessment of the production quality of audio or video recordings is made.

We are also committed to ensuring that the delivery of the fund is accessible for the selected artists/creatives. At the beginning of the year, we will provide awardees with an access document, and will ensure that our communications meet individuals’ needs.



The Live Work Fund is run by Jerwood Arts. It brings together Jerwood Arts, Wolfson Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Linbury Trust, four independent funders who share a common desire to substantially support performing artists/creatives directly following the impact of Covid-19.

Jerwood Arts is the leading independent funder dedicated to supporting outstanding UK artists/creatives, curators and producers to develop and thrive. We collaborate with organisations across art forms to imagine a more sustainable sector. Our programmes provide transformative opportunities for early-career individuals through awards, fellowships and commissions, and we present exhibitions in our gallery in London and on tour nationally.

The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity with a focus on research and education. Its aim is to support civil society by investing in excellent projects in science, health, heritage, humanities and the arts.

Since it was established in 1955, some £1 billion (£2 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 11,500 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review.

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve our natural world, secure a fairer future and strengthen the bonds in communities in the UK. We unlock change by contributing everything we can alongside people and organisations with brilliant ideas who share our goals.

The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK. In 2019 we made grants of £36 million towards a wide range of work within the arts, children and young people, the environment and social change. We also have a £45 million allocation to social investments for organisations with the aim of creating social impact.

The Linbury Trust is an independent grant-making trust established in 1973 by Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, and his wife Anya, Lady Sainsbury CBE. The Trust supports a wide variety of compelling and exciting projects across the world in the fields of arts, heritage and culture; the environment; and social and medical welfare.