Open Call: opportunity to apply for Co-Creation Artist Training Programme and £10,000 Commission

Performance Makers – read below about how you can apply for:

- A training programme, for individuals, to interrogate your practice and consider how co-creation can sit at the heart of your work (with a bursary of £225 to contribute to your time). Deadline to apply is Friday 3 July, 12pm.

- Followed by the opportunity to pitch for a £10,000 commission.

Derby Creative Arts Network (Derby CAN), an Arts Council-funded, multi-partner three-year programme, is looking to invest in artists who are interested in making work with our communities.

We are seeking theatre and performance makers who are willing to interrogate what “co-creation” and “co-production” actually mean. 

We hope you will try some things you’ve never tried before, work with some people you’ve never met, and see how this extends your practice and how together we can work with communities to create lasting impact and experiences. 

Application Criteria

We want to grow an ecology of artists who are passionate about Derby and see it as a place to see work, make work and engage with new ideas.

You do not need to currently live in, or have lived in, Derby but we are looking for artists and performance makers who have an understanding and knowledge of the city, the communities it serves and its heritage. The projects you devise will be made with communities so you'll need to be able to be accessible to those people. Please note there is no additional travel budget available. 

We encourage people from underrepresented backgrounds to apply. We are committed to providing opportunities for people of colour, Deaf or disabled people and people who identify as trans and gender diverse.

We will provide suitable access provision, in consultation with the people we work with.

Watch on YouTube

Derby CAN Artist Training Programme

Photo by Robert Day - The professional and community company of Treasure Island in rehearsal, February 2020

Step 1 - The Webinar

You need to watch the webinar Putting Communities at the Heart of What You Do: The Art of Co-Creation, produced by Derby CAN, which is now available to view on YouTube during the application window, for 14 days only, in the video below.

This webinar is led by François Matarasso where he poses some provocations around the idea of co-creation. This recording is captioned and BSL Interpreted.

Watch on YouTube

The webinar was live streamed on Wednesday 17 June. If you missed out on a place, we recommend booking early for future events, following @DerbyTheatre on Twitter and subscribing to IGC's Artist Network for updates and announcements on new opportunities.

Step 2  - The Application

To apply, please provide EITHER two sides of A4, a video recording or a voice note which answers the following questions...

1) After watching the webinar, tell us your thoughts on co-creation and how it might impact on your practice. (300 words)

2) Tell us about an example of your work. It doesn’t have to be about how you’ve used co-creation before, but it should explain who you are as an artist. (300 words)

3) How will you benefit from the training programme and the opportunity to then pitch? (300 words)

4) Please also complete the Equality and Diversity monitoring form, downloadable below, and submit this with your application.

Download Equality and Diversity Form as PDF

Download Equality and Diversity Form as Word Doc

You must ensure, before starting your application, that you are able to commit to the workshop dates posted in Step 3 below. 

How To Submit

Please send your completed applications to Stuart Allen, Senior Producer, Derby Theatre at: with 'Derby CAN Open Call Submission' in the subject line.


The deadline for applications is midday on Friday 3 July. PLEASE NOTE: we cannot accept submissions after this time. 

Not Too Tame Cinderella in the community

Photo by Chris Webb - Not Too Tame's Cinderella in the community at Ripley Social Club, Nov 2018

Step 3 - The Training Programme

We will let you know by Wednesday 8 July if you are successful or not. We are able to accept 12 participants. 

If you aren’t successful – don’t worry, there will be more opportunities to take part in the future.

If you are successful, you will need to commit to the following workshops...

Session 1 with Leo Kay - Wednesday 15 July, 11 am-1pm

Leo Kay makes interactive and intimate performances, carefully excavating autobiographical material and working with artists and non- artists to explore new collective spaces for dialogue, ritual and the creation of shared meaning.  

He wants to question all sorts of hierarchies, explore alternative political structures, celebrate temporary communities and listen; making space for the unheard to be heard. In these sessions he shares his approaches to making art. 

Leo will lead a session which explores in more detail the ideas Francois raises and encourages artists to start fermenting their own ideas. 

Session 2 with The Bulb People - Wednesday 22 July, 11 am-1pm

Rick is a Director of ‘The Bulb People’ a Community Interest Company that specialises in working with unemployed adults and young people from all walks of life who use their unique style of facilitation to inspire and motivate individuals. As a trainer, actor, and facilitator, he has over 30 years’ experience working in the arts, education, and business sectors. 

These Facilitation Skills training sessions have been designed to provide an environment for practitioners, from all levels of experience, to share and learn techniques that may enhance their practice, resulting in positive and enjoyable learning for all of those that they work with.

Some of the topics we will cover are as follows:


How to introduce an effective Working Agreement or Contract


Structuring sessions in order to increase variety and maintain engagement


The importance of clarifying and managing expectations


Using language that encourages participation


Avoiding Favouritism 


Assessing behaviour and the dangers of ‘mind reading’ 


Giving appropriate praise in order to encourage a ‘growth mindset’ 


Developing questioning and listening skills


Increasing awareness of our own behaviour and the message it is sending


Safeguarding – creating clear guidelines 

Session 3 with QUAD and China Plate: Working Digitally - Wednesday 29 July, 11 am - 1pm

This session aims to inspire artists to think creatively about what ‘digital content’ is, interrogate the motivations behind working digitally and explore what their digital impact could be. 

QUAD’s Digital Producer, Darius Powell will provide an overview of the digital tools and media available to artists and how these tools have been utilisied in a variety of environments through QUAD’s work and commissions led by QUAD’s technical arm, TECH:SQUAD.

Darius will then be joined by industry guests who will share their expertise/ experience of working with artists looking to untap the digital potential of their work.  

Session 4 with QUAD and China Plate: Digital Co-Creation - Wednesday 5 August, 11 am-1pm

A panel of guest artists will explore the potential of digital working in terms of co-creation and investigate how digital projects can reach and engage new audiences and communities. 

The session will offer case studies of digital co-creation projects from project development and delivery to engaging with and reaching digital audiences- and time to share and explore ideas. 

Session 5 with The Bulb People - Wednesday 12 August, 11 am-1pm

A continuation of the nuts and bolts of facilitation in Session 2.

Session 6 with Leo Kaye: 121s with Individuals - w/c 10 August

Each artist will have a 1-2-1 with Leo to discuss their ideas for their own practice.

Session 7 with Déda and China Plate:  Working Outdoors - Wednesday 19 August, 11 am-1pm  

Aimed at artists relatively new to outdoor arts, this session will get participants thinking about different ways they might create outdoor work and challenge preconceptions of what this work looks like.

Drawing on the experience of guest practitioners, participants will explore different approaches to working outdoors, and look at how outdoor projects can engage new audiences and communities.

Session 8 with Déda and China Plate - Wednesday 26 August, 11 am-1pm

Using specific case studies, this session aims to develop participants understanding of how to deliver outdoor co-creation projects - from project delivery to engaging with participants and audiences. 

There will also be an opportunity for participants to share and explore ideas. 

Step 4 - The Pitch

Reflection Sessions: Arranged between Leo and Artists - w/c 31 August 

Each artist will have the opportunity to reflect on their practice and hone their idea in conversation with Leo.

Pitch Support Sessions - w/c 7 September

A one-to-one discussion with CEO and Artistic Director of Derby Theatre Sarah Brigham and another core partner (QUAD, Baby People, Deda – depending on artform) and critical friend Rick Ferguson on how what you have learnt throughout the course reflects on your practice and how it might influence it in the future. 

Pitches Submitted - w/c 14 September 

Artists will then be encouraged to pitch for micro commissions of £10K to test out ideas which allow them to evolve a co-creation project with the communities of Derby.

If you have any questions about the training programme or your application please email Stuart Allen, Senior Producer for Derby Theatre at: 

Introduction to Derby CAN - Information Session

If you would like more information on the Derby CAN project before applying please join us for an information event on Monday 22 June. Early booking is strongly advised.

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