Training and funding empowering women to be leaders in the arts

Applications for Women Leaders South West have now closed. We are currently shortlisting with interviews due to take place on 7th, 8th & 9th December. We are very grateful to be supported by Shobana Jeyasingh with the shortlisting process.

Women Leaders South West
Empowering Women of all Backgrounds to be Leaders in the Arts

Are you interested in the arts? Do you enjoy problem-solving or making things happen? We’re inviting 16 women to take part in a paid leadership programme that includes work placements, mentoring and training.

BSL: Women Leaders South West Call Out

The challenge

Women are under-represented at a leadership level across all art forms – in theatres, festivals, galleries, and museums. Racism, ableism, transphobia, homophobia, economic constraints and caring responsibilities also create barriers to career development and leadership opportunities. The Women Leaders South West programme aims to understand these barriers, develop tools to tackle them and remove some of the obstacles women face in becoming leaders in the arts. We want to challenge people’s ideas of what a leader is, support new ideas and voices, bring excellence, excitement and strength to the arts and learn together with women from all backgrounds.

The opportunity

We’re working with 8 other organisations across the South West to offer training and funding for women to take part in a leadership training programme.

Together, we’re looking for 16 women associates who we can support on their leadership journeys.

Photo of Kalkidan Legesse, founder of Sancho’s, at the Slow Fashion Show. Photographer: Emma Booth.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for 16 women associates. You may have creative ideas that you want to see happen for yourself or your community.

The programme as a whole is looking for applicants who are:

  • Passionate about arts and culture
  • Over 21 years old
  • Based in the South West region (Bournemouth, Christchurch Poole, Plymouth, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Southampton, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire, BANES & Bristol)
  • Rooted in their local community
  • Interested in developing new skills

You do not need a higher education qualification. You do need to have at least 2 years’ work experience (this does not have to have been in the arts).

We are particularly interested in working with women from groups who are most underrepresented at leadership level in the cultural sector, including disabled women. At Strike A Light specifically, we are especially keen to hear from women based in Gloucestershire from Black, Asian and Ethnically diverse backgrounds.

What can we offer?

  • A relationship with one of the partner arts organisations – to involve you in workplace experiences
  • Mentoring – a learning exchange with women associates and hosts
  • A Living Allowance/training bursary of £12,000 to cover ten months of training, paid in ten monthly instalments (or in line with your bespoke programme)
  • Additional support to meet your individual needs across the whole programme e.g. childcare, BSL interpretation, support worker, travel costs
  • Online and face-to-face training and career development opportunities with Southampton Business School
  • Connection with women from across the world through the WOW Foundation and Jude Kelly who started the organisation

What will you do?

Together we will design a flexible training programme equivalent to 10 months. You will either work intensively over a concentrated period, or you will work less intensively over an extended period.

Host organisation programme
You will be paired with one partner organisation who will be your host, but you will have the opportunity to work with the seven other arts organisations where possible.

During your time with a host you might:

  • shadow or work with existing women leaders
  • work on an existing project with your host or one of the other arts organisations
  • create your own arts project using our team as support, for example, an event, a workshop, a talk series
  • identify a need and work with us to create a new initiative
  • bring support and challenge to our team – helping us reflect and plan
  • enable someone else or a community to achieve something

Residencies and international symposium
You will need to attend one 3-day and one 2-day residency to research and learn about leadership. You will meet the other women leaders of the 8 host arts organisations. You will be part of an International Symposium. All of your costs to attend these events are paid for by the programme.

Online and face-to-face training with Southampton Business School
You will attend a series of seminars and lectures on topics such
as business planning, marketing and income generation. These will be online and face-to-face and will be timetabled between January 2021 and June 2022.

You will attend 4 face-to-face meetings with other women in the cohort (16 women in total across the region).

When will you do it?

Your training programme will be scheduled between January 2021 and June 2022. We will be as flexible as we can to fit around your
commitments. We will work with you to design a programme and timeline that works best for you and your host partner.

Spring 2021 Residency at Dartington Hall in Devon
January 2021 – June 2022 Host Organisation Programme (equivalent of 10 months’ training, at any time in this 18-month period)
January 2021 – June 2022 Flexible learning delivered by Southampton Business School
January 2022 Evaluation residency (2 days)
Spring 2022 International Symposium (2 days)

How do I apply or nominate someone else?

We understand that people might not recognise their own leadership
potential so you can apply for yourself or you can nominate someone else or the programme. You MUST have permission from the person you are nominating.

Whether you are making an application for yourself or on behalf of
someone else, thank you for your interest and thank you for spreading the word about this opportunity.

You can apply directly to the programme via one of the hosts’ websites. You MUST name your preferred host organisation on the application form.

You can choose a host because a) they’re nearest to you b) because you share their vision or c) because you like their work.

Before you apply

Please check out our Frequently Asked Questions which we will update regularly and the full call out.

You can also contact one of the arts organisations via the contact information on their websites. Please include ‘Women Leaders South West’ in the subject of your email.

This call-out is available in BSL, large print and Audio versions.

BSL: Women Leaders South West Programme FAQs

Information Sessions
We are holding two information sessions for you to find out more about the programme, what we are looking for, how to apply and to ask any questions you might have.

Friday 6 November: 1pm
Tuesday 10 November: 6pm

These information sessions will be hosted via Zoom.

The other host organisations will also be holding information sessions – look out for dates on the organisation’s websites or sign up to the Women Leaders South West mailing list.

How to Apply

You must apply by the deadline of Monday 16th November 2020 at 9am.

You can apply in writing via the online form below or you can send us a video/ audio link that answers the application questions.

Click here to make an application
Click here to nominate someone else

You cannot save and return to the online form. We suggest completing the application questions in this word document in advance and pasting them into the form.

You must complete a very short and confidential monitoring form.

For video and audio applications complete your personal information on the forms above and paste a link to your video or audio file.


We are delighted to be working with an incredible panel of advisors who will support the host organisations with recruitment; helping to design the process, supporting shortlisting, interviewing with us and giving feedback to applicants.

Sabeena Akhtar is a Writer/Editor and an Arts and Culture programmer working across a
variety of literary festivals.

Maricka Oglesby is the Director of the Women’s Leadership Institute of Baltimore at Notre Dame of Maryland University, an historic institution educating women and girls for the past 125 years. She also serves as the Producer of the Women of the World Festival – Baltimore USA.

Kym Oliver is “…An unapologetically Black, African AND Caribbean, British, Disabled, Woman, with a
wheelchair-ish case of Multiple Sclerosis…”. Kym, is dedicated to illuminating their ‘lived experience’ with a long-term condition. Examining its psychological, emotional, practical, social, cultural, structural and interpersonal effects, in order to create a blueprint for a more equitable future. She is determined to be the change she wishes to see.

Shobana Jeyasingh is a choreographer and artistic director. Through her work, her lived experience as a British Asian female artist and through her contributions to cultural discourse she has been both a witness and advocate of the empowerment of women in the cultural sector in myriad ways.


Emergency Funding Support

Both rounds of applications for Arts Council England’s emergency funds for individuals and organisations have now closed. However there are other emergency funds available. ACE are contributing to a number of benevolent funds for artists and have compiled a list of other emergency funding available.

Some fantastic artist led funding appeals have also been created including:

We’re genuinely here to help! If you need someone to chat to about which funds might be best for you or to read over applications then please do get in touch.

ACE emergency response funds for individuals and organisations are now closed. Information on their future funding support will be released soon.

Arts Council England have released information about their emergency response fund. We have compiled some of the information about the funding for individuals below but we would definitely recommend reading the full guidance before applying.

If you have any questions about the guidance, need support to write your application or need assistance with using grantium then do get in touch.

We can answer questions over email or offer 1 to 1 advice sessions over the phone or zoom/skype. We are here to help so please don’t hesitate to contact us!!

Arts Council England Emergency Response Fund: For individuals 

Who can apply?

The funding will directly support freelance creative practitioners who have a track record of working in the publicly funded culture sector in England and whose main work is focused on particular artforms and disciplines:

• Combined arts 

• Dance 

• Libraries (activity that helps deliver the Universal Library Offers) 

• Literature 

• Museums 

• Music

• Theatre 

• Visual arts

Each practitioner can apply for funding of up to £2,500.

If you have additional costs relating to a disability, you can apply for up to £3,000 in total.

What can they support?

If the Covid-19 emergency has affected your work and has resulted in a loss of income, additional costs and financial challenge, they can support:

•       Activity and/or equipment that will help you to sustain your practice and support you in continuing with your work

•       Time to stabilise, think and plan for the future

There will be two rounds of this fund.  

You can apply to only one of these rounds. If you apply to the first round you will not be able to apply to the second round, even if you are not offered a grant in the first round.

The budget will be split equally across both rounds.

 Round oneRound two
Portal opens for applications Thursday 9 April 2020Thursday 16 April 2020
Portal closes for applications Thursday 16 April 2020 (12pm midday)Thursday 30 April 2020 (12pm midday)

ACE aim to start notifying applicants of the outcome of their applications to Round one by the end of April.

If you don’t already have a Grantium* profile, register by Monday 13 April 2020 for the first round, or your profile may not be validated in time. Check out the ACE guidance on setting up a profile to help you.

We would recommend setting up a Granitum profile ASAP!

*Arts Council England’s online application portal

How do I apply?

You will need to apply via Grantium & provide certain information:

1.    To identify the work you have had cancelled or curtailed due to the Covid-19 emergency and the income you have lost or costs you have incurred, up to the value of £2,500 (you may need to provide evidence of this at a later date).

2.    To tell them about your practice and your track record working in the publicly funded culture sector. This means that you have experience of making and delivering work directly or indirectly supported by funds from arm’s length bodies (such as the Arts Council, National Lottery Heritage Fund, or the National Lottery Community Fund), local authorities, universities, other public sector bodies or trusts and foundations.

3.    To tell them how you will use the time this funding affords you to stabilise, think and plan for the future.

You don’t need to have any income from other sources (or ‘match funding’) to apply to this programme.

Download the application questions (word document).

There is information on access, easy read guidance and BSL guidance videos available.

How will ACE make their decisions?

“We will use our expertise and judgment to make decisions based on the answers to the questions we ask in the application form and information from your applicant profile. We know we will receive a high number of deserving applications and, unfortunately, we won’t be able to give funding to everyone who applies. 

We will think about the range and balance of different applications we’re supporting. We want to support a diverse range of applicants that work in a broad range of artforms and disciplines and geographical areas. We need to think about our investment in areas of least engagement with arts and culture.

We will prioritise applications that demonstrate how funding could help to sustain the applicant’s practice and allow them to continue working in the future.

We will also consider whether applicants identify as a D/deaf or disabled person, have a long-term health condition or are from an under-represented protected characteristic group (based on the information collected on protected characteristics in their applicant profile on Grantium), to make sure our funding goes to those who may be most vulnerable at the moment and that we support artists and creative practitioners who are representative of this country and who can best continue to contribute to our Creative Case for Diversity

We may also consider whether you have any other open grants from Arts Council England that have not been used in full, and whether those already-awarded funds could be or have been repurposed.”

ACE have also released information about their funds for organisations outside of their National Portfolio. There will also be two rounds with the same deadline dates as those for individual applications. Organisations can apply for up to £35k.

If you have any questions or need any support in applying please don’t hesitate to get in touch!


Artist Support Sessions

We offer one-to-one support sessions for artists & producers at any stage in their career.

These sessions can cover a range of topics including:

  • Funding advice
  • Promoting your work
  • Budgeting tips
  • Tour Planning
  • Developing your professional practice

Or we can just be there as a friendly sounding board for you to talk through new ideas.

(Due to the COVID-19 pandemic these sessions will be offered via online video chats or phone for the foreseeable future).

To find out more or to book an artist support session get in touch:


Musician Call Out

Musician Call Out January 2, 2020

Our Associate Artist’s Raised Eyebrows Theatre are looking for a musician to join them on their upcoming tour of Charmane.

Musician Call Out

Raised Eyebrows Theatre are seeking a musician to join us for our tour of Charmane beginning this month. The ideal person will be an accomplished guitar player, have a strong singing voice, be able to learn music quickly, have experience of touring, be friendly and outgoing, and work brilliantly in a small team.

Charmane is a gentle exploration in to gender identity for family audiences, using puppetry and live music. Raised Eyebrows Theatre are a Gloucestershire based company and are associate artists of Strike A Light. The show is supported by Battersea Arts Centre, The Collaborative Touring Network, Strike A Light, GL4 & Arts Council England.

You can find out more about the show and company here:

Key dates:

  • Rehearsals: 20 – 24 January
  • Tour: 25 January, 1 February, 8 February, 9 February, 13 February, 15 February, 19 February, 20 February, 21 February
  • Fee: £100 p/d

Deadline for applications: Saturday 11 January

To apply please send a CV and cover letter to


Arts Council Funding Advice Sessions

Arts Council Funding Advice Sessions with Ruth Kapadia

We’re really pleased that Ruth from Arts Council will be carrying on being in Gloucester to give face to face advice on your project and Arts Council funding. We’ve had a great response so far. Just drop in 10am-4pm on any of the dates below, to Blackfriars Enterprise Hub, 10 Commercial Road, Gloucester (next to Gloucester Bike Project).

All sessions are currently POSTPONED (new dates to be announced asap).

Any questions email Jess on