Arts Council England has launched a £14.4 million fund for research and development projects called Developing Your Creative Practice.
Grants between £2000 and £10,000 will be made available to individual artists and practitioners, “without the immediate pressure of showing their work publicly”, the Arts Council said. This is a great opportunity to grow and develop without so much of the anxieties and pressures that come with having to produce a finished product.
It reminds me of China Plate's Dark Room which I went on in 2007 as a co-founding member of the Birmingham based theatre company The Other Way Works joined by the brilliant Clare Duffy. As emerging artists we were paid, fed, watered and housed in the depths of the Shropshire countryside for a week. To explore. To gently interogate. To look inwards and to look outwards. China Plate say that the "Darkroom invests in creative relationships rather than pieces of work and aims to give each company we work with space, time, and money to experiment, to rejuvenate, to enliven their processes and to grow creatively."
Recipients of the Developing Your Creative Practice fund will be able to use the grants to support periods of research, develop new ideas, international work and training, networking or mentoring. And perhaps this also includes funded time to investigate how you look after yourself as an artist; what are you wellbeing needs? How do you meet them? What personal and professional boundaries do you need to put in place in order to remain well and create art? What relationships enhance your personal spirit and art and which ones drain you?
Arts Council chair Nicholas Serota said: “Every creative person needs time to breathe, to broaden their experience and to develop their ideas. We want all our arts organisations to continue to commission and present new work from a diverse range of artists but we also need to invest in the future. This fund will give creative talent of different ages from different backgrounds the time and the backing that they need to hone their work and explore new paths.”
The fund has been allocated £3.6 million to be given annually for four years. The first round has been and gone and they have made 103 awards, awarding a total of £891,913 so far.
When applying you may also want to include someone who is a mentor, artist wellbeing practitioner, psychotherapist or coach who can offer professional support to your wellbeing needs as you take time to develop and progress.