Applying for funding

A few tips for artists who are applying for funding for their projects at the 2018 Plymouth Art Weekender. There are also useful resources for creating budgets and fundraising on the Visual Arts Plymouth website

Possible sources of funding include:

More info on each source below + the key stats you need for your bid.


In 2017 the Plymouth Art Weekender’s key stats were:

Live Audience

Total live audience: 20,632  

Average audience per inside venue over 3 days: 300


Social and Print Media Presence

August-September social media reach: 43,000

Print reach: 50,000

Online Advertising: 75,000

Poster, Flyer and Banner reach estimate: 100,000


Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants

This is the new version of Grants for the Arts. The Arts Council exists to support great art for everyone, which means they’re just as concerned with audiences/participants as artists. The Weekender is a great opportunity to share your work with an audience, so make sure you think about why your project will be of interest and how you’ll get people to engage.

If this is your first bid allow 10 days to get registered on their application system, then 6 weeks for a decision (if you’re applying for less then £15k).

You can find all the information you’ll need about the scheme here – Arts Council England Project Grants

We’d also recommend:

  • Allowing at least 4 weeks to build your application
  • Getting as many partners and artists confirmed as possible
  • Applying for no more than 70% of your costs, best if you can confirm how you’ll fund/pay for the other 30%
  • Securing lots of support in kind (this can include the marketing support of Plymouth Art Weekender, your time and that of the people helping you – if you are contributing some or all of it for free)
  • Asking someone who’s applied before to read your bid to make sure there are no errors and that it is clear and to the point
  • Reading all the guidance available 
  • Checking out Rachel Dobbs’ CHEATSHEET

Plymouth Soup

How SOUP works:

There’s a call out for applicants from which four individuals or groups are selected to deliver a 4 minute pitch of their project idea to the audience. Audience members can then ask each presenter up to four questions.

If you want to be in the audience on the night you will be asked for a £5 donation on the door. This gets you a bowl of soup and a vote!

After the presentations, audience members are encouraged to discuss and debate what they’ve heard. They then vote for the project which they think is the most innovative, creative and socially enterprising. The projects with the highest number of votes will receive a small grant (usually a few hundred pounds), plus the takings of the door.

SOUP is a fun way to raise money, build community support and get connections to local resources that can help you carry out your project. Many projects that pitch but don’t win the funding on the night go on to receive other offers of support, either financial or through the sharing of facilities and skills.

You can find information about upcoming SOUP events here – Plymouth SOUP


This works particularly well if you’re planning to produce something you can offer to supporters, whether it’s an event ticket or something they can keep. You’ll need to work hard to drum up publicity for your campaign, but all that work also helps to raise awareness of your project and can help you to build a really engaged audience. 

A really good example of a successfully crowdfunded project at the 2017 Weekender was Laura Denning’s project Benthnic Caress

It’s also worthwhile checking if your project is eligible for match-funding from Plymouth City Council via the on-going Crowdfund Plymouth scheme – they are interested in funding projects that:

  • are based in areas of the city where development has taken place
  • improve the local environment and public spaces
  • demonstrate added benefit for the city through for example, using local businesses or developing skills of local people

If you’re planning a crowdfunded campaign let us know in advance and we’ll help shout about it on our social media channels.

We’d also recommend:

Big Lottery

If you’re part of or working with a community group on a project that will have a genuine positive impact for that community, the group/organisation may be eligible to apply to the Big Lottery fund (rather than or as well as Arts Council England).

They are interested in funding projects that:

  • Shape the places and spaces that matter to communities
  • Bring more people together and build strong relationships in and across communities
  • Enable more people to fulfil their potential by working to address issues at the earliest possible stage

Among other things, to be eligible, you will need:

  • A bank account with 2 signatories
  • At least 3 ‘directors’ of your organisation – if you are an informal group then look into constituting as an ‘unincorporated community group’ – this is how lots of clubs and societies function – this will enable you to have the required 3 directors (Chair, Treasurer and Secretary) and open a bank account in the name of your project or group.

Find out more on their website, the application is more straight forward than Arts Council’s and they run weekly webinars which you can register for. You should allow at least 10 weeks for a decision.

Local Business sponsorship

You can approach businesses for cash, but the easiest type of business sponsorship to secure is ‘in kind’. This is great if you need something specific like a venue, paint, wood, printing etc. Think carefully about which businesses you’ll approach, why they might be interested and what you might be able to offer them in return (even if this is just a big thank you on social media). If your project really appeals to them and/or what you’re asking for won’t cost them very much (in time or cash) they may not want anything more then the feel good factor of helping out!

Ticketing/Selling your work

Whilst we love the fact that so much of the activity on offer during the Weekender is free to audiences, we also know it is really important for artists to get paid. So, if you have a fab workshop/talk/party to offer, asking for a small entry fee may be the simplest way to do this – think ‘Saturday Night at the Athenaeum‘ 2017.

Or maybe you can/already do make something really desirable, whether it’s artwork, tote bags, zines or a badge (Plymouth LOVES a badge!). A really creative example of this was LOW PROFILE’s LOCAL.