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.
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 https://theartsdevelopmentcompany.org.uk/contact-us/
- 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. https://theartsdevelopmentcompany.org.uk/contact-us/
- 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.
Grants awarded in 2022 for projects in 2022/23
Angel Exit Theatre – The Fairy Tale Forest
Developing The Fairly Tale Forest with professional artists and community participants (including adults with disabilities and additional needs) in a Gillingham garden centre – an interactive performing and visual arts experience for the community over several days during the Christmas season.
Chettle Community Benefit Society and Gobbledegook Theatre
Creation of a performance event with the Chettle community inspired by the routines around Wassailing of the past. The project is designed to encourage residents to reconnect with local land including the orchard, and celebrate food production opportunities.
Emerland Ant CIC
Research & development work with Wimborne History Festival, Wimborne Museum and Paper Cinema, in preparation for a community performing arts event in 2023 to celebrate Badbury Rings.
Research & Development work with local artists and young artists, in preparation for a project in 2023 which will involve community participants in a performance event in Swanage.
Research & Development project to build relationships with the Weymouth community and local groups through performing arts workshops, with a view to involving participants in a performance project later this year.
The Priest’s House Museum Trust
Supporting core costs of Millstream Theatre (theatre group for adults with learning disabilities) and introduction of a Creative Arts Masterclass programme to encourage new members and work towards a Cabaret performance at the Museum and a local festival in summer 2023.
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
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
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.
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.