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

Year Two

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.

Landance CIC

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.

Teatro Vivo

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.


Flea Production

Picture credits: Rob Jayne and Kate Genevieve

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