New Encounters

Performing Arts Bursaries for Sunderland BAME Artists

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

New Encounters – Professional Development for Sunderland BAME Performing Artists

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

Over the past year Sunderland Culture has been working in partnership with Sunderland Black and Minority Ethnic Network (SBMEN) to map the diversity of the city’s artists.  This research has revealed that there are many groups and individuals in the city with creative ambition, but they often struggle to realise their ambitions due to lack of resources, funding and support.  This means most are unable to pursue a full-time career in the arts.

Sunderland Culture celebrates the diversity of its communities and actively seeks to promote and support the work of artists from diverse backgrounds that reflect the communities living in our city.  In partnership with SBMEN we wish to offer 3 bursaries for Sunderland performing artists from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic backgrounds to help develop an area of their creative practice.

The details of the bursaries are as follows:


  • There are 3 bursaries of £500 each available.
  • Applications must be from people who are Black, Asian and any other minority ethnic heritage.
  • Artists must be able to demonstrate strong links with Sunderland – e.g., as a resident or through upbringing.
  • Artistic practice considered under this commission includes drama, dance, music, circus or spoken word.
  • We are looking for ideas that are original, interesting, exciting, thought-provoking and/or entertaining.
  • We welcome applications from professional, emerging, self-taught, community and graduate performing artists.
  • The bursary may be used in whatever way helps you most: it could be to pay yourself for your time spent on the project; to pay other artists/collaborators you may wish to work with; on props, costumes; technical or digital support etc
  • A further £250 is available to provide for artist mentoring.
  • The bursaries can be for individuals or collaborations/groups that are BAME-led.
  • If required, Sunderland Culture can provide appropriate space for research and development, rehearsals, recording and performance (subject to Covid 19 restrictions).
  • The artists do not need to create a performance as part of this bursary, but we can facilitate one if required.  We are more interested that the artist is able to demonstrate a developmental process that can continue beyond this bursary.
  • There is no fixed timescale to these bursaries, but they should take place at some point in 2021.  We recognise that artists may have full or part-time jobs which will affect how and when they can dedicate time to this.
  • The bursary will include professional feedback and advice on project and career development opportunities after this bursary has been completed.

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

How to Apply

Please get in touch and use the form below to tell us:

  • About yourself and your relevant work to date (feel free to include links)
  • What would you like the bursary to support?  Tell us about your idea or the existing project you wish to develop.
  • How would you use the additional support for mentoring?  Do you have someone in mind who could provide this?

If you prefer, rather than completing the online application form, you can apply by video sending us the link (max length 5 mins) to [email protected]

Deadline: 12pm Sunday 21st March

We will be in touch with all applicants by Friday 26th March and will be inviting a small number for additional conversations.

Thank you