Bristol Ferment announces shake-up with brand-new artist support

8 Jul 2019

Photography by Chelsey Cliff

Bristol Ferment today announced a new strand of in-kind support for artists and companies across the South West with the brand-new TheForum, set to make Ferment reach further and create even more opportunities for artists at every stage of their development. The announcement falls on the first day of this month’s Ferment Fortnight, a twice-yearly event celebrating works-in-progress from Bristol Ferment artists living and working across the region.

Bristol Ferment is Bristol Old Vic’s artist development programme. Every year, Ferment works with artists and companies in a number of ways to support and develop their work and practice. Over the last nine years, it has helped many artists to make work in the South West which has then toured nationally and internationally, including The Wardrobe Ensemble, Vanessa Kisuule and Sleepdogs.

Today’s new addition to the Ferment strand – The Forum – begins to create an even wider community of artists, providing support that aims to offer creative opportunities for everyone.

It was announced today that artists and companies based in, or from, the South West will be able to join The Forum free of charge, offering a range of development opportunities and benefits to engage with Bristol Old Vic and other artists in The Forum. The Forum is for:

  • Theatre-makers & artists aged 18+, based in, or from, the South West
  • All artists and art forms – actors, writers, directors, producers, designers, stage managers and many, many more – you don’t need to have previously engaged with Ferment or Bristol Old Vic

We actively encourage sign up from groups and individuals who are under-represented in the artistic community (POC, D/deaf & Disabled).

As a Forum member, artists and companies will be able to access:

  • Unused rehearsal space in the building, offered to Forum artists on a first-come-first-served basis
  • Free tickets to press nights, subject to availability on the night
  • Limited discount ticket rate on all Ferment performances across the year
  • Free monthly workshops and a monthly co-working day at Bristol Old Vic
  • Monthly newsletter to Forum artists detailing all upcoming Ferment opportunities, plus other opportunities in the region and across the country
  • The option to add details to a skills list made available to other members
  • And more! The Forum will be driven by the artists who are a part of it. We want them to tell us what else they need from The Forum.

Artists can gain access to The Forum by heading to the Bristol Old Vic website and completing the registration online.

Ferment Supported Artists & Companies are artists that Bristol Old Vic invests in to develop work or practice at a range of scales. Unlike the open-to-all Ferment Forum, Supported Artists & Companies are selected by the Ferment team through two avenues:

  1. Inviting us to see work by emailing
  2. Regular open calls for opportunities which will happen a few times a year

The ways in which Ferment helps Supported Artists & Companies are varied and bespoke, often involving a combination of rehearsal space, commissioning, programming, Ferment Fortnight opportunities and R&D residencies, producer support and specific artist development opportunities such as the Leverhulme Scholarships (2016 – 2019) and Jerwood Producer Bursaries (2015 – 2016).

Bristol Ferment will also soon be recruiting a group of five Artist Advisors to meet with Bristol Ferment four times a year to review the activity of the programme and give valued feedback. For more information, email Bristol Ferment Producer Ben Atterbury at

Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. The historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists, whether that be through their 350-strong Young Company, their many outreach and education projects or their trailblazing artist development programme, Bristol Ferment.

They use their funding to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to their programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it, or be able to afford it, and to keep their extraordinary heritage alive and animated.

On 24 Sep 2018, Bristol Old Vic completed its 2-year multi-million pound redevelopment project, which transformed its front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol to enjoy, created a new studio theatre and opened up its unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time.

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