2020-21 grant applications reflect uncertainty about Covid’s effect on the arts & cultural sector

1 May 2021

The Ragdoll Foundation announces grants awarded in 2020-21

2020-21 began with arts and cultural organisations (and everyone else) wondering how long Covid-19 restrictions would last and hoping that the end of the pandemic was just around the corner. The Ragdoll Foundation reached out to existing grant-holders to assure them that it would be possible to delay the start of a project, pause delivery, or move from in person to remote engagement. We all became experts on Zoom and other online platforms, and exhausted home-schooling parents found a new respect for educators.

Early main grants applications reflected the need to reengage children and young people “in person” within arts and cultural spaces once the spring into summer lockdown had ended. The ensuing lockdowns and home-schooling throughout much of the autumn and spring terms, however, meant that some grant holders had to adapt projects for remote or outdoor delivery, or postpone start dates until venues and schools reopened. Some projects have not yet been able to (re)start, meaning they will be running a year or more behind.

Notable main grants awards this year were three second grants – to Artichoke Trust, Blackpool Grand Theatre, and The Yard Theatre. These reflect the excellence of their practice and commitment to working with children and young people in challenging circumstances. One non-arts organisation received funding: Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland, to support a new peer learning project, in partnership with Helix Arts. Other work supported this year included innovative, risk-taking pilots, projects that aim to develop models of good practice, in-depth work with specific participant groups, and strategic projects that also listened and responded to children’s needs.

The Ragdoll Foundation launched the small grants programme in April 2020, just as arts, cultural and youth-focused organisations were adjusting to the “new normal” of Covid restrictions and lockdown. Although the new programme had been developed pre-pandemic, it turned out to be ideal for small organisations that needed to make quick adaptations, or develop new strands of work, in a rapidly changing and uncertain environment. Of 106 applications we awarded 27 grants, to a total of £37,639. 132

Small grants are for newer or smaller organisations and offer funding of up to £1,500 for new projects lasting up to six months. Match funding is not required, and overall budgets should be no greater than £3,000. Small grants have a one-step application process and quicker turnaround – from deadline to decision is approximately four weeks (although we do recommend that applicants submit proposals well ahead of the deadline). Organisations must be able to provide a full year of accounts, have an annual income under £300,000, and not be in receipt of core funding from their arts council or local council.

The Ragdoll Foundation supports innovative, high quality, arts engagement projects that put the voice and concerns of children and young people at the heart. We direct most of our funding to the arts and cultural sector, and prioritise work that takes place outside of London.

2020-21 – Main Grants

With the launch of small grants in April 2020, open grants became the parent programme, and main grants the new name for larger awards to more established organisations to run longer, in-depth arts engagement projects.

With the launch of small grants in April 2020, open grants became the parent programme, and main grants the new name for larger awards to more established organisations to run longer, in-depth arts engagement projects.

Artichoke Trust was awarded £15,000 over 11 months to fund Article 12, supporting young people ages 11-16 to work with poet Lucie Brownlee to create text-based neon artworks exploring experiences of lockdown and sharing hopes for the future, exhibiting the final artwork in central Durham as part of the 2021 Lumiere Festival.

Blackpool Grand Theatre was awarded £20,000 over 24 months to support Illuminate, a new holiday arts programme with looked after children and young people aged 8-13 working with an illustrator and sound artist to develop and share stories of being in care.

Cartwheel Arts in Rochdale was awarded £22,492 over 12 months to support Little Artists: big box of creativity, a collaboration between early years artists and families to co-design an activity resource and art pack for young children.

Doorstep Arts was awarded £21,580 over 24 months to support Embodied Literacy, enriching classroom creativity, community, and culture through imaginative experiences of early literacy for children transitioning from Early Years Foundation Stage to Key Stage 1.

Drake Music was awarded £20,000 over 24 months to pilot Tiny Techies, participatory workshops and action research in early years settings with children aged 3-5 years old who have a disability.

FACT, Foundation for Art & Creative Technology, in Liverpool was awarded £16,100 over 18 months to fund The Imaginists Society, working with a core group of young people to engage with their communities through a creative campaign, practical workshops, and a new artwork in collaboration with an emerging artist.

Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge was awarded £14,465 over 18 months to develop Art Now, a new model of artist residency and mentoring programme for SEND settings which supports children to develop their own creative output for their school.

Liquid Vibrations in Kingston was awarded £15,545 over nine months to support a music production project, in which young people attending a SEND school work with a professional music producer to compose, produce, and record music for use in Musical Hydrotherapy sessions for fellow students with disabilities.

Octagon Theatre in Bolton was awarded £30,138 over 24 months to support Into the Woods, an arts engagement project with pupils 8-11 years old from Blackrod Primary School, exploring how they see the world, inspired by the rural landscape around them.

Play for Progress in Croydon was awarded £15,000 over three months to pilot a series of RAW workshops – Record, Arrange, and Write – supporting young unaccompanied refugees to make their voices heard through music and the visual arts.

Puppet Animation Scotland was awarded £3,268 over nine months to develop and test AnimATE, a new, replicable, sustainable model of exploring animation and cooking, in partnership with Edinburgh Food Social, to support and complement existing holiday hunger programmes across Scotland.

Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland was awarded £11,280 over 12 months to fund the Peer Led Relationship Project, supporting young people to devise a drama piece exploring exploitation and abuse within relationships, in partnership with Helix Arts.

SPID Theatre Company was awarded £20,000 over 24 months to fund Living History, a youth theatre and heritage programme supporting young people living in North Kensington and Kensal Town, London, to champion their estates, call for positive social change, and improve their prospects.

The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick was awarded £30,000 over 36 months to support Yardlings: Bigger & Better, developing their existing children’s and youth programmes, promoting cultural inclusion, creating a new young artist theatre festival, developing new school partnerships, and conducting an in-depth evaluation to promote a sharable framework.

2020-21 – Small Grants

Small grants, launched in April 2020, allow newer or smaller organisations to experiment and take risks: test different ways of working, pilot a new project, or conduct research to inform development of a larger piece of work. Projects last up to six months.

Active Engagement & Education in Widnes was awarded £1,500 to pilot Street Voices, a youth cultural project through rap, beat boxing, writing, and recording young people’s views.

Artworx in Portsmouth was awarded £1,488 to support Hope & New Beginnings Art Project, exploring children’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences during the pandemic through the visual arts.

Barnsley Museum & Heritage Trust was awarded £1,500 to support Transforming Destinies with children involved in the Young Offenders Reparation Scheme, which aims to improve literacy, increase wellbeing, and raise aspirations.

Baroque in the North was awarded £1,331 to pilot Musical Emojis: Exploring Emotions Through Music, introducing children 6-7 years old from a Manchester school to a variety of musical instruments and how music can elicit emotional responses.

Bath Mind was awarded £1,500 to support Inside the Cabinet of Compassion, an online pilot project to explore kindness with year six students about to move up to secondary school.

Bristol Foster Carers Association was awarded £1,363 to support the Pantomime Project, children working together, taking control, and making decisions in a safe, non-judgemental environment to produce and perform a pantomime for other foster families.

Caxton Youth Organisation, which is attended by young people with special educational needs or disabilities in Westminster, was awarded £1,332 to support the Covid-19 Online Art Project to engage young people unable to attend the Youth Centre during the lockdown closure.

Community Ventures in Middlesbrough was awarded £1,236 to support the Children’s Community Tapestry Project, using textile art to channel children’s personal and creative expression by producing their own lockdown memories in the form of a patchwork square.

Easy Peel Studio in Stockport was awarded £1,500 to fund the Merseyway Workshop Saturday Club, free to attend sessions for children and parents to experience hands-on craft activities and launch Easy Peel’s new community workshop space.

Fired Up Theatre was awarded £1,500 to support Radio Blah! Blah! Research & Development, in partnership with St. Augustine’s and Denstone Academies in Staffordshire. This project researches the potential of school radio stations as platforms for children to devise stories, characters, soundscapes, poems, and monologues.

Freshrb was awarded £1,498 to support Covid-19 Response Programme, building community amongst Manchester young people sharing experiences and perceptions during lockdown in a short documentary format, produced and created by themselves.

Good Wolf People in Croydon was awarded £1,484 to support Lion Heart Digital, exploring how new technology might support the Lion Heart young people’s theatre group during lockdown.

Greentop Community Circus in Sheffield was awarded £1,420 to support Facing Fear, Daring To Dream, workshops for Greentop’s youth group, Troupe, to reconnect as a group after lockdown and use creative skills to process and understand feelings, fears, hopes and dreams. 

Groundswell Arts was awarded £1,500 to support Life in Lockdown, a new piece of puppet theatre co-devised by children and their parents living in Portsmouth, working in collaboration remotely with Tigerboat Theatre.

Grwp Cymuneddol #CaruAmlwch in Anglesey was awarded £1,500 to support Amlwch Town Urban Art for local young people 11-16.

LAS Theatre was awarded £1,500 to support Home, in which young people living in Lewisham create, perform, and record place-based stories for audiences to discover outside using a mobile phone; encouraging exploration of hidden places, everyday locations, and spaces of significance from the young person’s point of view.

Moor to Sea Music Collective in Dartington, Devon, was awarded £1,500 to support a pilot of Orchestrating Change, a co-creation project between groups of young people to exploring access, diversity and connecting across difference through making music.

Positive Impact Community in West Ealing, London, was awarded £1,500 to support the Shine Project, a music programme and event with young people of Somali heritage and their parents.

PPT Arts and Events in Brixham was awarded £1,500 to pilot Paint Box Beatz, engaging local young people who frequent the area around their arts studio but haven’t yet stepped through the door to participate in a creative workshop.

SCAFT was awarded £1,335 to support In My Shoes 2, a filmmaking project for young carers in the Rochford District of Essex to explore their experiences and interests.

Sunbeams Play in Norfolk was awarded £1,500 to fund Skill Up with Sunbeams, in which children 6-12 years who have autism work with a local potter to support sensory development, self-expression, problem-solving skills, and pride in their achievements.

The Common Lot Theatre was awarded £1,500 to pilot a new youth theatre in the Mile Cross area of Norwich.

The Cornwall Arts and Crafts in Redruth was awarded 1,050 to support Steampunk Express, workshops for local teenagers in partnership with Upcycle Kernow Arts to produce steampunk hats or masks from recycled materials.

The Glens Community Association in Limvady, Northern Ireland, was awarded £1,500 to support The Lowdown on Lockdown, a performing arts project for local young people.

The Spirit of Goole was awarded £1,159 to support Media Inclusion, a new programme for young people to document a yacht renovation project through photography, videography, blogs, and content creation for TSOG’s YouTube channel.

We Make Culture was awarded £1,450 to support Singing our Stories, a new weekly music group for children living in kinship care families, in partnership with charity More than Grandparents.

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