Covid-19 Responses

making theatre for extraordinary times

The second round of commissions from this fund is now open and will close on 18 May 2020. Scroll to the bottom of this webpage for information on how to apply.

At the end of March, Farnham Maltings invited south-east based theatre makers to submit applications to receive a commission to create new work ‘right now’ in these extraordinary and difficult times. Heartened by positive responses to the current crisis – from the balcony singing in Italy, the mass aerobic workouts in Spain to new, digital choir platforms, we wanted to support exciting, mischievous ideas which fully embrace the requirement of social distancing and turn it on its head.

Six projects have been commissioned which will see work take place in Slough, Lewes, Bedfordshire, Newhaven, Bexhill and through West Sussex and East Surrey. Through these projects we will engage with over 3000 people across the South East. The six commissions will provide paid work to sixteen artists and creative professionals.

The work is not all digital – projects include multi-sensory walking trails, juke box phonelines, digital creative experiences for learning disabled and a community light installation from windows and doorways. The work will reach young people in Bexhill and Newhaven, learning disabled adults in East Surrey and West Sussex, young families in Bedfordshire, older adults in Slough and light up the town of Lewes.

“It was our ambition to very quickly introduce some support to artists at this very difficult time and respond in a timely way to those who were keen to keep creating and making for their community” Katy Potter, Farnham Maltings Producer “What’s been thrilling about this commissioning project is how it has brought about new conversations and new relationships both between the artists we’re supporting and us here at Farnham Maltings.”

bloomin'artsBloomin’ Arts

‘Creative Islands’ – artists to develop a ten-week series of online workshops and resources which will be tailored and available to learning disabled adult student artists from Surrey and West Sussex who can no longer access their regular classes and sessions.

Polly Wiseman – Fireraisers Theatre Company and collaborators

‘Light up Lewes!’ – invites all in Lewes to light Lewes’ skies with torches and candlelight from windows, gardens and doorways and join in song to celebrate their town. The project will link with Lewes bonfire organisers with different levels of community engagement.

Abhi Arumbakkam and Nisha Anil

‘Jukebox Telephone Line’, Slough – An analogue response to accessing music every weekday between 4pm and 6pm This is a project aimed at addressing social isolation using a telephone line. When a member of public calls a centralised number, a volunteer answers, engages them in a brief conversation, takes their song request, asks them why the song and if there is a story around it and then plays the song via the telephone line while encouraging them to sing along. For some, this might be their only human interaction during the day, for others it’s a chance to connect with someone feeling lonely. Copy of JUKE BOX TELEPHONE LINE Poster

Act on It! – Rachel Steele and Helen Turner

‘Shouting Out’ – for young people in Eastbourne, Bexhill and Newhaven – is a collection of five mini monologues created through remote conversations. The lighter side of being on lockdown for overlooked young people is explored through themes such as food, friendship and frustration. Performed and shared online, the work will provide access to the arts for the participants during this challenging time.

hunt and dartonHunt and Darton

‘DIY Radio’ – a pack to help families create their own radio feature within their homes, help to upload this to H&D who then curate, edit and share the work through radio connections in Essex and Sussex.

Collar and Cuffs

‘Village trails’- Using a combination of local knowledge and sensory, inclusive methods, Julia will develop three interactive story trails around Toddington village in Bedfordshire that will enable children and grown-ups alike to create their own theatre experiences where they live. The trails – differentiated by age and need – will encourage residents to interact with features of the village from the spider thatched into the roof of Barn Cottage on Park Road, to visiting the disused historic sandpits in the rural belt surrounding the village.

Applications are now open for the second round of submissions. If you have a proposal we would like to hear from you as soon as possible.

We are investing in a further round of commissions, between £500 and £5000, asking South East artists to respond with exciting, mischievous ideas which fully embrace the requirement of social distancing and turn it on its head.

We will also consider projects which may not take place until lockdown restrictions are lifted but which respond to current times and how we emerge back into life amidst our towns and villages.

Please submit a maximum of 500 words detailing firstly your idea and approach to the project, where and how it will take place and then more about you and your experience, web links are acceptable. This should be accompanied by an outline budget.

We will also accept video proposals, these should address the information above and be no longer than 5 mins.

Makers should be able to actively begin work on their proposal straight away.

NB: South East area excludes all London Boroughs, more info here

Please send your proposal to

Closing dates for proposals

This is a limited programme of short commissions supported by The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. We expect to support a range of new commissions up to 6 in this second round.

Closing date 2: 9am, Monday 18 May 2020 

Get in touch

If you would like to talk through your idea with us at any stage; email or text Gavin Stride, Director on 07775 558695 or Katy Potter, Producer on 07798 812548 to arrange