Small Arts Awards

Small Arts Awards have been replaced by the Public Engagement Fund.

Previously, Small Arts Awards funded new artistic projects that enabled artists and audiences to explore health research. 

Scheme at a glance

This scheme is now closed

Project stage:

Research and development, Production and project delivery

Where your audience is:

UK, Republic of Ireland

Level of funding:

Up to £40,000

Duration of funding:

Up to 3 years

Who can apply

Small Arts Awards are open to:

  • individuals, eg artists, producers and curators
  • organisations, eg companies, community groups and universities. 

Your project team should include: 

  • a professional artist
  • a researcher with expertise in the subject you’re exploring, eg a research scientist, health professional, ethicist or medical historian.

In most cases, your team and the primary public audience should be based in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. 

Your proposal must be to develop a new artistic work that explores health research. We support projects during research and development and/or final development and delivery.

Eligible projects will:

  • develop high-quality, imaginative artistic practice
  • bring together artists and scientists in collaborative relationships
  • stimulate debate about health research and the history of medicine
  • encourage new insights into health research and its social, cultural and ethical effects, rather than simply illustrating it
  • reach and engage diverse audiences.

Who can't apply

You can't apply if your proposal is mainly about:

  • a health promotion or campaign
  • art for therapeutic purposes
  • educating and informing.

You can't resubmit an unsuccessful application.

If you’re looking for project support over £40,000, a Large Arts Award may be more suitable.


What we're looking for

You’ll need to be able to show:

  • your artistic vision, process and track record
  • you are working with experienced research collaborators and that there's coherence between the research topic, artistic practice and audience
  • how the artist and researcher will work together to develop the project  
  • you’ve considered your target audience and/or participants, and why your project is likely to be of interest to them
  • the feasibility of your project
  • your ability to deliver the project 
  • how you plan to evaluate your project and share what you’ve learned
  • a budget that offers value for money.

If you’re applying for research and development costs, you should be able to explain how your finished project might reach an audience. 

If you’re applying for funding towards final development and production costs, you should have plans to reach and target an audience, including financial or in-kind support from partners and venues. 

We’re particularly interested in projects that reach audiences who don't currently get involved in arts or science activities. At the moment, we’re focusing on: 

  • socioeconomically disadvantaged groups
  • people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds 
  • rural or geographically isolated communities.  

Small Arts Awards are up to £40,000, for projects of up to three years. The awards support project costs for research and development as well as final production development and delivery, such as:

  • You can ask for staff costs if:

    • your organisation or the post is project funded
    • the post doesn’t already have a salary for the period of your grant
    • the staff are essential to your project.

    You can’t ask for staff costs if the post is revenue funded.

    You should consult appropriate sector guidance such as Equity, Independent Theatre Council, Artists Information Company and Arts Council England.

  • research/teaching buy-out leave to cover the cost of a temporary replacement post

  • We will cover costs that you can justify. If your organisation isn’t revenue funded you can also ask for associated core costs.

  • production costs, including marketing and dissemination of the work

    travel and subsistence relevant to the project

    evaluation and dissemination

  • We cover:

    • venue hire and access charges
    • Disclosure and Barring Service checks
    • contingency costs, up to 5% of the total amount you’re requesting
    • administration costs that aren’t already covered by other funding
    • access support including, but not limited to, British Sign Language interpretation and PA support.

    We don’t cover:

    • salary costs for staff who are already funded by their organisation
    • core overheads of the organisation administering your grant that aren’t related to the project, eg heating and rent
    • fees for academic courses eg Masters or PhDs, and other tuition fees
    • any expenses you incur when submitting your application
    • costs incurred before your project starts.

You should ask for a level and duration of funding that's justifiable for your proposed activity.

A Small Arts Award can be used to fund all or part of your activity. We usually pay 90 per cent of a grant at the start, and the remaining 10 per cent at the end (when we've received an end of grant report).

What we don’t offer

We don't provide funds for directly allocated or indirect costs unless they're included on this page.

Small Arts Awards have been replaced by the Public Engagement Fund.


Research and development
Production and project delivery
Republic of Ireland

Contact us

For general queries about grants, contact

Projects we've funded

Sharon Watson, Artistic Director and Choreographer, Phoenix Dance Theatre

Sharon Watson Artistic Director and Choreographer, Phoenix Dance Theatre Small Arts Awards

Sharon Watson

There are two sides to what we do – formal educational study and artistic development – and Wellcome's criteria fitted them perfectly. 
More case studiesList of grantholders