New Encounters 2022

Performing Arts Bursaries for Disabled Artists in Sunderland

These guidelines and the application process are also available as an audio recording here.

An Easy Read version of these Guidelines is also available here.

Sunderland Culture celebrates the diversity of its communities. We actively seek to promote and support the work of artists from diverse backgrounds that reflect the communities living in our city.  As part of our artist development programme, Unlock, we wish to provide 3 bursaries that will help disabled performing artists develop an area of their creative practise.

This opportunity is offered as part of Unlock which supports the development of artists and creative businesses in Sunderland, delivered by Sunderland Culture. The Unlock programme is part-funded by the European Structural and Investment Funds through the Sunderland Community Led Local Development Programme and the Coastal Communities Fund. 


  • There are 3 bursaries of £500 each available.
  • A further £250 is guaranteed to support artist’s access requirements and support, or for artist mentoring.
  • Applicants must identify as being disabled (We take our definition from the Disability Rights UK website)
  • Due to funding restrictions, you can apply for this ​bursary if you live or have a business address in an eligible postcode. You can check whether you are eligible here.
  • Artistic practise considered for this bursary includes drama, dance, music, circus or spoken word.
  • We welcome applications from established, emerging, self-taught and graduate performing artists.
  • The bursary may be used in whatever way helps you most – there does not need to be specific outcomes such as a performance.  For instance, the bursary could be to pay yourself for your time spent developing a new idea; to pay other artists/collaborators; or for digital support etc
  • The bursaries can be for individuals or collaborations that are disabled artist-led.
  • If required, Sunderland Culture can provide appropriate, accessible space for research and development, rehearsals, recording and performance (Subject to Covid-19 restrictions).
  • Whilst we offer an opportunity to perform within a venue as part of the bursary, it is not essential to conclude with a sharing or performance, but artists must be able to demonstrate a developmental process that the artist may want to continue beyond this bursary.
  • We expect the period of time for artists to dedicate to the bursary to be at least 1 week in length (20 to 25 hours in total). We recognise that artists may have other work or life commitments, and the working time is flexible for you to organise.
  • The bursary would include professional feedback and advice on career development opportunities after the bursary has been completed.

We would be happy to discuss your idea before applying or answer any questions about the commissions.  To arrange a telephone or Zoom call, please contact us at [email protected]


Deadline for applications: Friday 18th March, 2022

Interviews (In person or via Zoom): Week beginning 21st March, 2022

Access Requirements:

Please let us know if you have any access requirements for this application process and/or the bursary.   Where possible and if necessary, we will assist finding access support as part of your bursary. 

How to Apply:

Your application can be submitted in any of the following formats:

  1. Complete and submit the application form below
  2. In an Audio file (MP3/WAV/Soundcloud etc)
  3. In a Video file via file transfer site (preferably WeTransfer or Vimeo – max 5 mins in length)

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