Sustain: Development for next stage artists and companies

BPH are seeking 6 established* artists, producers, writers, creatives, and small companies based in Bradford who want to move to the next step in their development and would like to be part of a peer network in the District.


About this training series

BPH are seeking 6 established* artists, producers, writers, creatives, and small companies based in Bradford who want to move to the next step in their development and would like to be part of a peer network in the District.

(*for this opportunity, we define ‘established‘ as working in the creative industry for 10 years or more)

Sustain is a 5-month programme which will support you to move forward and address the specific challenges that you or your company are facing. It will also help BPH to understand more about these challenges so we can look at more ways to put more support around mid-career artists in the future.

Experienced artists and companies need specific expertise, time and space to reflect, explore and test new or different approaches in a supported way. Sustain is a bespoke programme where you will work alongside a group of peers to help break down barriers, glass ceilings, limitations to growth, and help you take your next steps individually and as a group.

We’ve paired up with Dramaturg and development specialist Lou Cope to lead us through the process, Lou’s practice takes the principles of dramaturgy and applies them to support artists and companies with their organisational and career development.

“I am thrilled to be invited to take part in a second round of Sustain. Working with the brilliant artists of round 1 to dig into their practice and their processes, and see where there is room for change, improvement or clarification, has been a genuinely inspiring process. And it has reaffirmed for me that carving space out to draw breath and reflect is vital for all busy arts practitioners hoping to survive and sustain their work. What I also really love about the program is that, because it involves group as well as individual sessions, it gives participants the opportunity to connect and grow together - which feels hugely important - especially as there is so much happening in Bradford at the moment. I can't wait to get stuck in!”

Application Timeline

20 January 2023 – Applications open

23 February 2023 – online information session to answer any questions you have about applying.
12 pm on Zoom, register here

2 March 2023 – application deadline

10 March 2023 – successful applicants informed

March to July 2023 – programme runs

About the programme

After a successful launch in 2022, Sustain returns for a second round. The 5-month programme will run from March to July 2023 and will comprise one-to-one meetings, group sessions and self-directed time.

The Sustain schedule:

Plus additional bespoke development sessions that you’ll decide on as a group – this could be things like hearing from an expert in a particular field, practical hands-on training or anything that you would all find helpful.

Please ensure you are available for these dates and add them to your diary on application. Individual meetings will take around 90 minutes and their exact timing would be decided between each participant and Lou but they will be on the dates outlined in the timeline above.


About the facilitator

Lou Cope is a Performance Dramaturg with over 15 years experience in working with artists, organisations and academic institutions to creatively and collaboratively develop both their processes and productions. Lou is also Dramaturg in Residence for South East Dance and works as an Organisational Dramaturg to a number of companies. She is an alumna of the Clore Pulse Leadership course.

Shows Lou has worked on have won: 2 Olivier awards, The Benois Prize for Dance, The Critics Choice Award, UK Theatre Award, Total Theatre Award, Amnesty International Freedom of Speech Award, ACTA Eastern Eye Award, Herald Angel Award and a Lustrum Award.

What sort of commitment is it?​

We think you will get the most out of Sustain if you are around mid-career artists or small company* (working in the creative industry for 10 years or more) who has identified some specific barriers to development or progression needs.  This might be things like:

Please note, Sustain is not aimed at Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations (NPO) – though you may be planning to apply in the upcoming or future rounds.

What will I get from it?

Through this process you will:

Please note, Sustain does not include additional individual funding other than bursaries and access support. If you are not looking for a structured development opportunity with peer support and just need funding or 1-2-1 support, take a look at our alternative programmes: Spare Bob or Mentoring.

How to apply

The application deadline is Thursday 2 March at 11pm.

To apply, please complete our online application from. You can submit part of your application via text, video or audio. If uploading a video or audio file, please keep this under 2 minutes.

If you need to complete your application another way, or if you have any questions, please email us at

Application questions

To help you prepare your application in advance, below are the main questions we ask in the application form.

Answers to these questions can be submitted either by text in the form, or through uploading a video or audio file (please keep to under 3 minutes).

1) Tell us about your connection to Bradford

2) Tell us about your / your company’s background and experience
Think about things like:
– How you / your company is funded or structured
– How long you have been creating work/working in the live arts sector
– Artform / the kind of work you make or support
– Any significant milestones or achievements

3) Tell us what’s limiting you? What are the challenges, sticking points or development needs you are experiencing that this programme could help you to address?
Please be as specific as you can.

4) Tell us where you are trying to get to? Where would you like to see your professional development lead in the future?

Bursaries, access and travel costs

As with all our development programmes, we have bursaries and access funds available to make these opportunities as accessible to as many people as possible. Please let us know what you need when completing your application form.

Bursaries: a contribution towards your time to enable you to attend when you may otherwise be working. You can claim up to £50 per half-day session, and £75 for a full-day session.

Access costs: additional costs you may have to enable you to attend; things like disability support, BSL interpretation, translation, or childcare.

Travel costs: the cost of travel to our events ideally using public transport. If you need to take a taxi, please get in touch with us to let us know as we’ll need to approve this in advance.

We do not means-test or ask you to prove that you need this financial support, but where possible we need to agree in advance on what costs we will cover, and you will need to provide receipts to claim costs back from us. Please only apply for these if you need to, as this will ensure we can provide funds to those who really need it.

Sustain: Development for next stage artists and companies Training Sessions:

Day 1: ‘On Stage’

Saturday 22 April 10am – 4pm

This session is about realising live performance for theatres and traditional indoor performance spaces and taking work from the page, to the stage.

Day 2 ‘Out of the Ordinary'

Saturday 13 May 10am – 4pm

This session is focused on festivals, installations, and performances outdoors and in usual spaces; such as disused shops, mills or warehouses.

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