A people powered programme for change

Reshaping our programme

It’s been a while since we last spoke, and during that time the world has been turned upside down and the arts industry has been fast approaching a precipice. On Sunday we welcomed the news that the government will provide a £1.57bn emergency support package for the arts. For some this intervention has come too late, and we are at risk of losing a generation of artists and community spaces. We can only hope the funds are distributed fairly and with speed, providing security for freelancers, organisations and venues in need.

We are lucky to work in a region that values and invests in culture and fortunate that for the next 18 months we have support from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Culture Fund. This fund covers a small amount of our core costs, contributes towards creative projects and our education and training programmes. However, this funding alone cannot sustain us and
we, as many others, have lost vital income during the pandemic.

We are relieved to announce that we were successful in the ACE Emergency fund for non-NPO organisations, which will enable us to uphold commitments to freelance creatives and provide opportunities for meaningful engagement across our local communities.

Though welcome news for us, we know that many of our brilliant peers and vital industry voices have not received the support they so desperately need and we recognise that we have to be continuously committed to fighting for them and the industry at large. At the end of this release we have shared a number of petitions and resources that we hope can help to change the future of the arts industry.

A responsive, relevant and useful programme

The Coronavirus pandemic caused us to re-imagine 18 months’ worth of programmed activity, during which time we were due to work with a large number of freelance creatives and community members. With this is in mind, we set about rebuilding a responsive, relevant and useful programme of work with the following priorities in mind:

  • To provide paid opportunities for freelance creatives
  • To deliver accessible creative activities to local people in need
  • To increase our free training and mentoring offering to help upskill creatives
  • To build on our equalities work, bringing attention to and providing opportunities for those disproportionately affected by the pandemic
  • To digitise our mental health and wellbeing initiatives to enable a wider impact
  • To strengthen and diversify our income streams to ensure our survival

We’re delighted that through the ACE Emergency funding alone we are able to:

  • Provide paid work for 28 freelance creatives
  • Run 6 training sessions
  • Deliver 39 Bespoke advice/mentoring sessions
  • Engage 25 older participants from Salford in bespoke creative project, Dial

Over the next 6 months we are excited to deliver the following activity:


During lockdown we’ve seen older people reduced to negative numbers and throwaway figures. From the treatment of older people in care homes, to their increased isolation and lack of connectivity – it’s clear that there’s need for a conversation about the way we treat older people, and for change in our society. Dial invites five Greater Manchester artists to pick up their phones and connect with twenty-five Salford based older people, and to create a response to their conversations. Ready to put aside common misconceptions about what life for an older person might look like, our artists are ready to create a new dialogue beyond the monotony of lockdown and as part of a creative collective.

Box Tickers podcast graphic

Box Tickers

In October the Equality Act 2010 has been in action for a decade. We’ve been talking about this act, and equality in society in schools with thousands of young people since 2016. At each school, we ask an important question: ‘do you think it’s working?’ Pre-pandemic, we lived in a world where artists were wheeled out to ‘tick a box’ or speak for an entire community. Right now, we’re wondering what the post-pandemic world will look like for those who have spent their time confined to a box. After prolonged austerity, tension, protest and pandemic, Art with Heart has returned to the Equality Act’s list of protected characteristics and asked; is ‘protection’ enough? We’ve commissioned artists to produce provocations for a podcast series.

Artist Brew Days

Built on the concept that mentoring and advice occurs when emerging artists approach established artists ‘for a brew’, four years ago we flipped this by inviting artists into our office for an hour of free advice. This autumn we’re flipping this again and paying five freelance creatives to run workshops and advice sessions on everything from stage design to movement direction and working with deaf performers.

Workshop participants engaging in conversation


SPACE is a holistic wellbeing event that includes activities to support positive mental health and wellbeing signposting, curated by mental health practitioner Steph Walker. Over the past four years we’ve provided SPACE 45 times to communities nationally. We are now digitising this useful resource so that it can be used by those isolated during Covid-19 and as a long-term resource to encourage people to look after their own wellbeing.

Organisational Development

We are working hard to ensure Art with Heart is secure and can continue to provide creative opportunities and projects in the future. This strategic work includes working with a new Associate Producer who has experience working with commercial clients who will help us to:

  • Diversify our income streams
  • Investigate charity status which better fits our business model
  • Develop corporate partnerships, particularly within Greater Manchester
  • Create a new business plan to help future proof Art with Heart

We would like to give huge thanks to Arts Council England and Greater Manchester Combined Authority, who have continued to support our work. We would also like to thank the Art with Heart community. Whether you’re an audience member, artist, friend, family, facilitator – we appreciate everything that you do to contribute to our work.

Below are number of resources that can help to educate, support and shape the future of the arts as well as some commissions and funds available to artists:

Resources and Networks

Government guide to working safely: Performance specific government guide to working safely during the Coronavirus.

GM Artist Hub: GM Artist Hub is a joint artist development project from thirteen arts organisations across Greater Manchester to offer our support to the independent practitioners, artists, and companies of Greater Manchester.

Freelancers Make Theatre Work: A collective voice to advocate for the UK freelance theatre workforce.

Voluntary Arts Creative Network: A series of online get-togethers open to anyone involved in arts, culture and creativity in order to connect and collaborate in unusual times.

MIF Resources for Freelance Creatives: An evolving list of resources for anyone looking for information, advice and support.

UK Theatre Producers Group: A Facebook group for UK based theatre producers to share opportunities, ideas and jobs.

Migrants In Theatre Survey: A group of migrant organisations and individuals collecting data about migrants in theatre in the UK.

Culture Plan B PodcastA podcast featuring work of artists and communities who create culture outside big institutions. Created by @davidjubb and @dunster_matthew.

Commissions, Funds and Bursaries

Black Artist Grant from ROOT-ed zine: A new Black Artists Grant has just been set up, a monthly £500 no-strings attached grant for artists of all ages in the UK. It is funded by Creative Debuts.

Open Commission for D/deaf or Disabled Artist from Trinity and Cambridge Junction: Trinity and Cambridge Junction have come together to offer a £3,000 commission to a D/deaf or DisabledArtist(s) to create work for an online audience.

Common Ground Fund: A programme of four £10,000 commissions for artists, makers or creators, and a professional development programme focused on cultural climate leadership. Deadline is Thursday 30 July.

Artists Fund Artists: Artists Fund Artists operates on a 3 month planning cycle to reflect the fast-changing times we are currently in. Announcements will be made for each cycle about where the next batch of funds raised will be going.

The Theatre Artists Fund: The Theatre Artists Fund has been set up to provide emergency support for theatre workers and freelancers across the UK. It is for theatre professionals who are in need of urgent and critical financial support due to the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the theatre sector.

CSRC Writer in Residence Bursary: Pentabus are looking for an emerging writer to become our third Clive and Sylvia Richards Charity Writer in Residence.The £10,000 bursary supports a professional playwright in the early stage of their career. Deadline:10am, Monday 3 August 2020

#SupportBlackLGBTQCreativesFund: AZ Magazine created a £20k fund for Black LGBTQ+ creatives to continue to amplify the voices of those who are too often forgotten so we can be the tellers of our own stories. They are looking for donations and hope to support 10 Black LGBTQ+ creatives through the funds.

A gym filled with empty chairs