The Dorset Performing Arts Fund

'There is strong evidence that participation in the arts can contribute to community cohesion, reduce social exclusion and isolation, and/or make communities feel safer and stronger' Arts Council.

The Dorset Performing Arts Fund

The Dorset Performing Arts Fund supports artists, groups and projects in the creation and delivery of the performing arts in East Dorset, West Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck and Weymouth & Portland. The fund supports innovative ideas that represent their audiences and localities, enriching community life and raising aspirations.


The idea to create the Dorset Performing Arts Fund emerged from a Bridport based community theatre project called “FLEA!” which took place in 2017. “FLEA!” was a large scale community production that involved a diverse cast and crew of over 200 children and adults, led by a team of local professional artists who were responsible for the management and delivery of the project. The show was funded by ACE and by donations from local philanthropists, the largest of which came from The Bridport Electric Palace, under the ownership of Alasdair Warren.

Local philanthropist Alasdair Warren was inspired by the level of enthusiasm, community engagement and broad-based community benefit which “FLEA!” generated. Working with the team responsible for producing “FLEA!”; producer Sally Vaughan, community dance practitioner Anna Golding and theatre director Niki McCretton, the purpose and guiding principles for the Dorset Performing Arts Fund were defined and the Fund was set up with Dorset Community Foundation.

Grant programmes

DCF works closely with the Arts Development Company (ADC) who provide expert support for the delivery of the Fund, which offers three funding programmes:

  • The main grants programme offers grants to eligible local groups for community performing arts projects that meet Fund criteria. This programme is by invitation only and unsolicited applications are not considered. Dorset Community Foundation invite selected groups to apply, administer the grant application and decision making process, and monitoring of funded projects. If you would like to share your project idea please get in touch with ADC, who provide support to groups who are developing suitable projects
  • A small emergency grants scheme is available for individual performing artists in the Dorset Council area, to support Continuing Professional Development. ADC administer this programme.
  • In early 2020, The Dorset Performing Arts Bursary scheme supported seven young people age 14 – 21 with exceptional talent and ambitions in performing arts. Unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic lead to the cancellation of the following 2 rounds of the programme, at which time a decision was taken to withdraw this programme.


Our impact reports are available to read here.

Year One – grants awarded in 2019

Year Two –grants awarded in 2020

Year Three – grants awarded in 2021

Year Four – grants awarded in 2022

Grants awarded in 2023 for projects in 2023/24

As One Theatre Company

Series of community workshops to share stories from Ukrainian refugee families residing in Weymouth, and their hosts – culminating in performance as suited to the needs of participants

B Sharp

Live, interactive music experience with and for children aged 0 – 8 and their families in Lyme Regis, led by music leaders/trainees from B Sharp supported by the B Sharp Early Years Development lead

Brave Bold Drama

Research & Development for show ‘The Keepers’ in 2024/25 – about British lighthouse keeping and how people weather storms. Working towards a version for families and a version for people living with dementia, preparation for which involves working with a local care home

Common Ground

Bite-sized performance workshops to enable local people to perform and participate in a new outdoor participatory show ‘Caught in the Net’. The show is inspired by memories, stories, conversations and oral histories gathered by writer, Sarah Acton, for her book ‘Seining Along Chesil’, published in 2022.

Emerald Ant CIC

Performance of The Iguanodon Restaurant at 3 SEN schools in Dorset, followed by 2.5 days of workshops with children, culminating in their own performances. Includes involvement of local museums to enhance learning about fossils/geology.

Island Community Action

Local people to take part in workshops and interactive performances throughout the day of an Environmental Fayre on Portland, to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators.

Islanders Youth & Community Centre

An opportunity for young people to work with professional artists to devise a performance at the B-Side festival – with access costs to ensure the opportunity is accessible for those from low income households.

Landance CIC

Following R&D supported by the Fund last year, this grant is match funding to support an Arts Council application for the final project, which will work with local young people to devise and perform their own piece- with an adapted performance providing enhanced accessibility.

Tall Tails Theatre Company C.I.C

Project working with Kushti Bok to provide opportunities to create performing arts with Gypsy & Traveller communities in Dorset, celebrating their culture, history and storytelling. Small scale performances will take place during following community workshops, with materials aiming to support a larger scale public performance in 2024.

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