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Call for Proposals: Diverse Actions Leadership Bursaries 2019/20

The Live Art Development Agency (LADA) is offering two Leadership Bursaries of £10,000 each for artists and/or arts workers from culturally diverse backgrounds (BME: Black and Minority Ethnic) as part of Live Art UK’s three-year Diverse Actions programme.

The bursaries aim to support a new generation of ‘skilled-up’ leaders and new models of leadership which will have an impact across the arts.

Application deadline: 12 noon, Monday 25 February 2019, to support a year-long programme of activity in 2019/20.

“Through Diverse Actions, I have been able to spend time and energy, been able to buy the books and materials I needed, to travel across continents to engage with the artists and thinkers challenging systems, forms and borders. I have seen an appreciable increase in my hourly/day rate, making my artistic practice more sustainable, and have grown my professional network and the international reach of my creative work. My practice feels re-energised, more stable and confident, and I am so grateful for the support which made this progress possible.” – Season Butler, 2017/18 Diverse Actions Leadership Bursary recipient

“The Diverse Actions Leadership Bursary has helped me to advance my practice at a really crucial moment. It has allowed me to develop important skills, dedicate mental and physical space to my work, connect to other artists, facilitate space to grow networks and continue several important projects which I otherwise would not have been able to.” – Victoria Sin, 2018/19 Diverse Actions Leadership Bursary recipient

Diverse Actions

Diverse Actions aims to champion culturally diverse ambition, excellence and talent in Live Art. Diverse Actions builds on Live Art’s vital role as a practice of artistic innovation and a space to express complex ideas of cultural identity. Diverse Actions is supported by an Arts Council England Ambition for Excellence Award and led by Cambridge Junction on behalf of the national Live Art UK (LAUK) network. See below for more information on Diverse Actions.

For Diverse Actions, LAUK has chosen to use the terms ‘diversity and difference’ to signify diversity in all its forms (as represented by the protected characteristics) and ‘cultural diversity’ to refer to Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) cultural identities.

Leadership Bursaries


The Leadership Bursaries will support a self-determined, year-long programme of artistic, professional and skills development by artists and/or arts workers.

The aim is to stimulate or enhance new ways of working, the development of new contexts and discourses, and ultimately enhance artistic practice and the capacity for artistic leadership.

Six bursaries are to be awarded over three years: four have been awarded so far to Season Butler and Joon Lynn Goh in 2017/18, and Zinzi Minnott and Victoria Sin in 2018/19. This is the final round, with the bursaries running through 2019/20.

The bursaries build on the strengths and successes of LADA’s One to One Bursary scheme (1999-2006), which supported over 50 artists. These bursaries supported artists to undertake innovative artistic and professional development programmes that explored and tested new ways of working and had a demonstrable and lasting influence on their practices.


Leadership in the Live Art sector can take many forms and an ‘artist-leader’ creating new contexts or discourse is as valuable as an arts professional operating within the confines of an institution.

The aspiration of this new initiative is to encourage leadership that extends or challenges existing paradigms, and to enable the creation of artist-led, fit-for-purpose leadership in the cultural sector.


The bursaries will offer awards of £10,000 each to two artists/arts workers, leaders and/or potential leaders, to undertake a self-determined, year-long programme of artistic, professional and skills development. The awardees will need to demonstrate their desire and capacity to make a significant impact on the Live Art sector and have a significant influence on the practices, approaches and ambitions of artists from culturally diverse backgrounds.

The bursaries are therefore about both the development of practice, and how the supported artists/arts workers and their practice can impact on and influence others.

The nature of the bursaries is open and will be tailored around the specific aspirations and needs of the bursary recipients. Some, for example, may wish to ‘buy’ space, expertise, mentoring, or access to training and resources to hone and/or develop particular skills. Some may wish to undertake specialised research or take time to think, write or imagine different ways of working. Others may wish to develop partnerships for new curatorial contexts, engage in critical discourses around their practice and/or undertake attachments with a network, collective or organisation. Strategies to ‘activate’ and ‘connect’ others are also welcome, which may include networking (real or virtual), shared professional development and/or publication.

Bursary recipients will have access to LADA’s resources and facilities, and be supported by LADA’s team. They will work in close consultation with the Diverse Actions Project Manager. They will also have access to the wider expertise of the Live Art UK network and the Diverse Actions Steering Group, composed of members of Live Art UK and independent artists and advisors.

Please note that the bursaries are not production grants.

The management, monitoring and evaluation of the bursaries will be devised in collaboration with the bursary recipients, and facilitated and managed by LADA. Bursary recipients will be expected to produce a report (including final income and expenditure breakdown) with supporting material. If appropriate, bursary recipients will be invited to contribute to the symposium and publication planned for 2020. Recipients will be required to acknowledge the support of Diverse Actions, LADA, LAUK and Arts Council England.


We encourage, and will prioritise, proposals which are bold, creative and seek out new ways of working.

We therefore encourage applicants to think in creative, provocative and timely ways when developing their proposals.

Application deadline: 12 noon, Monday 25 February 2019

Proposals should include the following information:

  • Name and contact details.
  • Brief background information including details of recent and current activities, and a brief description of the nature of your artistic/working practice and relationship to Live Art.
  • A statement on your understanding of what leadership can or could be, and how and why you feel you can undertake a leadership role for Live Art and for artists from culturally diverse backgrounds.
  • A description of the programme of activities you propose to undertake to develop or realise your leadership potential, including both practical and conceptual research and development, as well as possible public outcomes.
  • An outline of how your proposed programme will contribute to your personal and professional development, and the development of the Live Art sector.
  • An indication of how you will allocate the £10,000 bursary, including fees for yourself and others (mentors, advisors, participants), travel etc.
  • A summary schedule for your year-long programme of activities, to commence in April 2019 and conclude by March 2020.


To be eligible for the Leadership Bursaries, artists/arts workers must identify as working with/within Live Art. See LADA’s What is Live Art? webpage for more information.

Applicants can be resident anywhere in England, but must have been based in the UK for a minimum of five years, and have been practicing within the arts for a minimum of five years.

Applicants should have developed or supported a body of work that has advanced the possibilities of ‘live’ practices, be able to demonstrate a commitment to creating new contexts for work or discourse, and be open to intergenerational dialogues.

Applicants’ capacity to undertake self-determined professional development activities and research, and the timeliness and appropriateness of this bursary to their practice will be critical.

Full time students are not eligible for this award. Anyone studying part time at MA or PhD level may apply, but must clearly demonstrate that they are able to undertake their study at the same time as completing their proposed bursary programme and that there is no duplication between the two proposed programmes.

Full time salaried staff of arts and cultural organisations are not eligible for this award. Part time arts workers may apply but must demonstrate how the bursary programme complements their paid role.

If you are unsure about your eligibility please call LADA to discuss it with us in advance.

Assessment and Selection

Applications will be assessed by representatives from LADA and the Diverse Actions Steering Group.

The selection of the two Diverse Actions Leadership Bursaries will be based on:

  • The relevance of the proposal to the overall aims of the Leadership Bursaries initiative: to develop the supported artist’s or arts worker’s practice, and impact on and influence others.
  • The significance of the proposal to the leadership potential and development of the applicant.
  • The timeliness of the proposal to the development of the applicant.
  • The distinctiveness of the proposed programme and innovative approaches to professional and/or artistic development.
  • The extent to which the applicant demonstrates a clear vision for new models and understandings of leadership.
  • A commitment to Live Art and the development of the Live Art sector.
  • The viability of the proposal and the capacity of the applicant to realise their plans within the time and resources available.



Announcement of bursary awards will be made by the end of March 2019.

We will write to all applicants about the outcomes of their applications and where possible provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

Background and context

The Leadership Bursaries are being offered as part of Live Art UK’s Diverse Actions programme.

It is 24 years since the publication of Let’s Get It On – The Politics of Black Performance, a groundbreaking examination of issues of cultural identity and innovative performance practice (ICA, 1995). That marked an important moment in contemporary performance and represented the practice of a wealth of UK theatre makers, including motiroti, Michael McMillan and SuAndi. In her essay, the editor Catherine Ugwu wrote:

“Struggles around difference and the appearance of new identities in political and artistic arenas have provoked powerful challenges to the dominant narratives of the modern world. One such challenge – Live Art – embraces a broad church of overlapping and shifting aesthetics, ideologies and methods of production. Live Art’s very resistance to categorisation and containment, and its ability to surprise and unnerve, makes its impact far-reaching. Growing numbers of black artists are engaging in Live Art practice, viewing it as one of the few remaining spaces available to express complex ideas of identity.”

In the late 1990s, the ICA (London) was the internationally recognised locus of Live Art. Since then, the UK infrastructure for Live Art has steadily expanded and Live Art is now championed by the members of Live Art UK; this dynamic national network of festivals, venues, promoters/producers and support organisations supports and develops the Live Art infrastructure for the benefit of artists, presenters and audiences.

Live Art traverses and enriches the edges of many artistic practices including theatre, dance and visual arts. We believe the twenty-first century will see an increased blurring of artform boundaries and that this will be led by concerns, which – like Live Art – explore forms of practice, ‘liveness’, duration, location/site, processes of creation, integration of technological tools, and relationships with audiences. We do not see Live Art as at the margins of the arts but rather as central to its future.

Ugwu’s understanding of the offer of Live Art as a ‘space available to express complex ideas of identity’ remains central to Live Art. Our experience is that artists are drawn to Live Art because it enables reflection on both practice and concerns of diversity and difference. We believe new voices gravitate towards new modes of expression and if traditional institutions and/or artforms aren’t working for new voices (or previously unheard/excluded voices) they will create their own structures or break through elsewhere.

Supported by an Arts Council England Ambition for Excellence Award and led by Cambridge Junction on behalf of Live Art UK, the Diverse Actions initiative aims to champion culturally diverse ambition, excellence and talent in Live Art. Diverse Actions builds on Live Art’s vital role as a practice of artistic innovation and a space to express complex ideas of cultural identity.

Diverse Actions has four strands of activities:

  • Professional development: to attract, encourage and support a new generation of performance makers.
  • New work: development, presentation and touring: to enhance and deepen existing development and presentation opportunities for performance makers.
  • Leadership: to strengthen the national network for the development and presentation of Live Art and empower new leaders across the sector.
  • Legacy: to stimulate and disseminate discourse and dialogue about cultural diversity and performance.

The Leadership Bursaries are central to these ambitions and to enhancing Live Art’s vital role as a practice of artistic innovation.

Over three years from April 2017, LAUK member organisations are supporting 14 bursaries, 9 workshops, 15 residencies, 15 commissions, 3 international masterclasses, 15 tours, a publication and a symposium. LADA will offer two Leadership Bursaries annually in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The legacy of Diverse Actions will be held by the practitioners who participate and benefit from the initiative, including those new to Live Art and those who extend their practice.


LADA is a Centre for Live Art: a knowledge and research centre, a production centre for programmes and publications, and an online centre for digital experimentation, representation and dissemination.

LADA supports everyone who makes, watches, researches, studies, teaches, produces, presents and writes about Live Art in the UK and internationally.

Through a portfolio of Projects, Opportunities, Resources and Publishing, we create new artistic frameworks, legitimise unclassifiable art forms, and give agency to underrepresented artists. Our work sets artists and ideas in motion, serves as a research lab for mass culture, and contributes to mainstream culture in the long-term in ways which can’t be foreseen.

Banner image credit:

Victoria Sin ft. Whiskey Chow and Shy One, A View From Elsewhere, 2018. Part of PS/Y’s Hysteria. Photos by Anne Tetzlaff


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