To identify and support models of best practice and originality in the field of participatory performing arts...

OUR WORK                                  


Against a background of changing demographics, reduced public spending and an altered perception of the relationship between 'culture' and 'social responsibility', we have been aligning our arts activities more closely with our overarching purpose of seeking to improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities, particularly those which are most vulnerable.

Our long-term aim is to see participatory performing arts practice become more mainstream. We are calling this strand of work Sharing the Stage and our approach can be summarised here.

We aspire through this strand to:

  • identify and support a number of participatory performing arts models that develop practice and push boundaries and which are based on collaborations between organisations of different scales and/or sectors;
  • nurture a self-sustaining community of practice, sharing learning and forming networks;
  • ensure that funders, arts organisations artists, critics and audiences take participatory arts seriously;
  • engage people who are usually not included, enabling them to find a voice through participatory arts.
  • In addition, as part of this strand of work, we will be seeking to:

  • support exchange of practice and the development of networks between art practitioners within the UK and internationally;
  • improve the evidence base through commissioning research and evaluation;
  • support the development of innovative finance models.


Since 2011, we have supported new ways of creating connections within and between communities, aiming to advance participatory performing arts through testing ground-breaking models, including international ones. Read more about the participatory performing arts projects that we have supported so far.

Summary of supported projects

Lifting Tottenham: A two-year programme of work with the London International Festival of Theatre that will see world-class artists from across the globe working alongside non-professionals in the deprived areas of Tottenham to redefine excellence in participatory practice and provide transformative opportunities for participants, audiences, artists and local organisations.

Supporting NESTA in the evaluation of the Arts Ventures Fund and the impact analysis of the ventures supported through it. The pilot fund will test the proposition that access to appropriate investment would enable arts organisations to build their capacity for social impact and income generation.

Supporting the Shoreditch Town Hall establishing itself as a referene arts venue that delivers ground-breaking work and has significant impact in improving wellbeing for the local community.

With One Voice Global: supporting Streetwise Opera with the initial stage in the development of an arts and homelessness international network, including an exchange between practitioners in the UK and Brazil ahead of the 2015 Rio de Janeiro Olympiad.

Working with Theatre Royal Stratford East to support the international element of the Home Theatre Festival UK including a seminar to share learnign from a range of models developed to addressa variety of social issues across different cultures.


In July we announced an open call for expressions of interest (EOI) for research and development funding of £20,000 for participatory projects leading to production. We received 155 EOIs, of which we long listed 71. An analysis of long-listed expressions of interest can be read here

All 71 long-listed projects were invited to our Sharing the Stage event on September 10 2014, which was designed to help them develop their proposal.

As well as providing opportunities for networking to enable organisations to connect with colleagues with whom they might submit consortia bids, the event sought to map the field discussing what quality means in this context.

On September 10 we also published a literature review of participatory practice commissioned from Chrissie Tiller. This is presented as a web-based tool called Participatory Arts Alphabet and functions as an online digest of research on participatory performing arts.

The deadline for fully developed proposals for collaborative projects was 12 October 2014. Fourteen consortia of organisations have now been selected for research and development funding. 

At the end of the research and development phase, in late 2015, the Foundation will make a final selection of a limited number of projects (around 5) which will receive further support towards production. A separate budget in the region of £350,000 (possibly more depending on availability of funds), to be divided amongst selected projects, will be available at this time.

Participatory Performing Arts: Summarising Our Approach PDF Download
2014-2019 Strategy Leaflet PDF Download
Image: João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva, On the Movement of the Fried Egg and Other Astronomical Bodies, Ikon, Birmingham, 2010. Photo: Stuart Whipps