What’s the process for getting commissioned?
It’s important to say that this is a pilot of a process, so we expect the following to shift as we learn, make mistakes, and grow towards a better way of doing things. We aim to be as transparent as possible and to protect open routes for new artists alongside established relationships we currently hold across the South West.
At present, we see the process in three phases:
Phase 1: Invitations and ‘Expressions of Interest’
As opportunities open, we will publish clear guidance about the support we can offer and invite short expressions of interest (EOI) from artists and companies in the South West.
When you apply we will ask you to note whether you are applying for a development commission or a co-producing commission. (We might ask you to reconsider which category you apply for if we think you are more suited to the other, but this will always be in dialogue with you.)
Every EOI will be read by two people: a member of the Bristol Old Vic team and an independent creative practitioner. Around 30 EOIs are selected for Phase 2.
Alongside this open call, we will also invite 30 artists/companies to present full applications for Phase 2 (this number is in addition to the 30 EOIs selected). These invitations will be made by the wider Ferment team in partnership with our network across Bristol and the South West, acknowledging the industry knowledge and relationships we and the community hold.
Phase 2: Full Application
If invited to progress to this stage, you will be asked to provide a more detailed breakdown of your idea. You/your company will be paid a small honorarium (£50) for your time to complete this and will have access to 30 minutes of consultation time with a producer to support you to develop your idea and express it clearly.
Once submitted, each application is read by two people: a member of the BOV team and an independent creative practitioner.
Around 30 applications are selected for Phase 3.
Phase 3: Creative Pitches
All selected artists/companies are given a further honorarium and producer support to develop a pitch for presentation to a panel of Bristol Old Vic team, independent artists and representatives from other local creative organisations. The panel will then select who to support. This will add up to around 8-12 development commissions and 3-4 projects for co-production.
Above all, we hope to prioritise the creativity and wellbeing of artists, genuine skills development, and always hold space for fun and playfulness.
What do you mean by Expression of Interest?
Expressions of interest are a chance to introduce yourself and your idea – that’s all! We just want to hear about you and what you’d like to make, so we’ll ask for the following information:
- About you/your company (150 words)
Tell us about you, how you work and anything you’ve made previously. We want to know your story!
- About your idea (150 words)
What’s your vision for it? What do you think it needs? How far along the process of developing it are you?
- What could we support you with (150 words)
What are the main things you might need from a collaboration with us—beyond funding? How can we best support you and your work?
- Attach 1 link that gives us a sense of your work
This could be a clip of you performing captured on your phone or a link to some previous work, or a few pages of script. Try and keep it short, we just want to get a taste of the work you’ve described above.
What do you look for in ideas?
There’s no magic formula for an idea that’ll be perfect for Ferment, but some key things we always look for are:
- Why you care about this idea – why is it exciting to you?
- Why it’s important for this idea to be explored now
- Why you think it would be well-suited to being supported by the team at Bristol Old Vic.
What is the difference between a development commission and a co-producing commission?
- A development commission will support projects or ideas that still need time and space to grow. It might be a brand new idea or one that you’ve been working on for a while, but you’ll still have lots of questions about what your idea might look or feel like, and you’ll be looking for a development commission to help you answer those questions before you try and make the finished thing.
- A co-production commission will support projects and ideas that are fully developed and ready to be seen by the world. You might still have some questions about what your work looks and feels like but it will be possible to find the answers in the process of making it and sharing it with audiences.
How much financial support should I expect?
The financial contribution within each commission will be discussed and agreed individually with each project, relative to the size and scale of the idea, but we expect most development commissions to be in the range of £3000 - £5000, and most co-production commissions to be in the range of £10,000 - £20,000. At the end of every commissioning round we will publish a list of commissioned projects along with detail of the financial contribution agreed with each.
Got any more questions?
We’ve tried to make this process as clear as possible, but if you think we’ve missed anything then please get in touch with us by emailing
We’ll publish any frequently asked questions on this page. Within each commissioning round we will also organise drop in zoom sessions to answer questions you might have before you apply; the dates of those will be made available on this page.
In-kind support – Support given to an artist or company that is not money. This might include the use of free rehearsal space, regular mentoring conversations, access to materials, etc.
Early/mid-career – There is no clear benchmark for when you transition from ‘early-career’ to ‘mid-career,’ but an indicator might be the size of the venues you’re working in, the scales of the budgets you’re working with, or whether you’ve been paid or commissioned for your work before (though this isn’t always an indicator).
We define this transitional point as: creatives (of any age) who have either begun to establish a career in the arts, or who have laid a foundation of professional work and are ready to scale it up. For example, early career could be a writer with a body of work looking for their first paid commission, and mid-career could be a theatre company with an established track record of studio work looking to move into mid-sized theatre spaces.