Find out more about the Digital Collaboration Fund 

What is the Digital Collaboration Fund?

The Digital Collaboration Fund is a new, pilot fund offering grants of up to £50k to organisations in the UK and selected countries overseas to collaborate digitally on international projects.

Why a digital collaboration fund? 

We have always supported international artistic collaboration through our work. In response to increasing restrictions on global travel due to Covid-19, and rising concerns about the sustainability of face-to-face collaborations, we are now looking for new ways to foster these international connections. 

The Digital Collaboration Fund aims to address this challenge. Through a series of grants, we are supporting organisations to devise new virtual ways of working internationally, in turn creating a climate-friendly approach to international collaboration and artistic exchange. 

Who can apply?

Key elibility information:

  • The fund was open to arts and culture organisations and higher education organisations with an arts and culture focus.
  • Individuals as either lead or collaborator were not eligible to apply.
  • Applications had to be a partnership between at least one UK organisation and one organisation based in one of the countries listed below.
  • There had to be one lead applicant, but this did not need to be the UK organisation. 
  • Whilst the funds are designed to benefit the artistic community, applications were only accepted from legally registered organisations and collectives. Applicants needed to have a registered business bank account. 
  • We accepted applications for multilateral projects, with the focus on the programme being delivered mutually across the UK and in overseas countries. 
  • In general, funding needed to be split 60/40 between the partners. The lead partner could get no more than 60% of the funding and at least 40% of funding had to be distributed in one or more of the countries listed below.  

Eligible countries: 
UK in partnership with:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Pakistan, Peru, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, Vietnam, Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia) Yemen, Zimbabwe.

What funding is available?

Small grants (£10-20k) or a large grants (£40-50k) were offered in the following three areas:

  • Research and development grants: Grants to research and develop proposals for new virtual collaboration projects.
  • Restart grants: Grants for organisations to restart projects that are currently on pause due to the impact of Covid-19 and covert the project to a digital/virtual output.
  • Collaboration grants: Grants for new collaboration projects with a focus on virtual and other new ways of working. 

Funding available:

Small grants of 10-20k GBP: 4 grants awarded per area (12 total)
Large grants 40-50k GBP: 5 grants awarded per area (15 total)

More information about the types of projects we are looking to fund:
Research and Development grants:
These grants are for organisations to research and develop proposals for projects. The grant could be used to scope out projects, test ideas, or hire researchers to investigate an issue or topic that organisations are hoping to explore in upcoming work.

Restart grants:
These grants are for organisations to restart a project that is currently on pause due to the effects of Covid-19. We’re anticipating that the grant will be used to convert a physical project to a virtual/digital output.

Collaboration grants:
These grants are offered for new projects and can include a research and development phase. 

Example project types:
Virtual art residencies
Virtual exhibitions or showcases
Virtual conferences
Online art and cultural archives
Creative collaborations 
Research and development of project ideas
Digital games
Mixed, augmented and virtual reality projects

What do you mean by ODA funding?

The Digital Collaboration Fund is classed as Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Official Development Assistance is a term coined by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to measure aid. 

Digital Collaboration Fund projects are required to demonstrate that they are making a positive contribution to the social and economic development to the ODA country involved in the application. They should aim to further sustainable development (development that is likely to generate lasting benefits for the population of the country to which it is provided) or improve the welfare of the population. 

For more details about ODA, see OECD's website.

What do you mean by digital/virtual projects?

The fund is designed to foster international connections at a time when international travel is restricted. In light of this, we are supporting partnership projects where organisations in the UK connect virtually with organisations overseas in order to deliver collaborative projects.

As there are global restrictions on hosting physical activity, we expect the project output to be primarily digital and presented online. As the organisations will be unable to travel to meet in person, we expect that the development of the project will also be done virtually, using online collaborative tools.

We hope that by supporting these projects in this pilot fund, we are supporting organisations to establish a climate-friendly approach to future international collaboration.

What costs can the grant cover?

Direct project costs include:

  • New staff positions to deliver the project
  • Additional hours for existing staff to deliver the project
  • Training costs
  • Professional fees
  • Translation and interpreter fees
  • Equipment and materials
  • Activities relating to learning, advocacy and community engagement
  • Evaluation
  • Promotion
  • Extra costs for your organisation, such as a new online subscriptions, new computers or extra rent
  • First-party insurance costs

Up to 25% of the budget can go towards organisational overheads.

We believe artists should be paid fairly and this should be reflected in the budget in relation to any artist costs. 

How were applications assessed?

Applications were be judged across the following three areas:

Activity and innovation - 40%

  • Evidence of developed discussions and activity outline 
  • Evidence of innovation through digital exchange

Partnership and positive contribution - 30%

  • Evidence of a sound partnership
  • Demonstrate that they are making a positive contribution to the social and economic development to the ODA country involved in the application 

Diversity, project viability and sustainability - 30%

  • Evidence of a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion 
  • Usefulness of the grant to further development of the activity 
  • Evidence of estimated cost breakdown and timescales
  • Sustainability

Selection process:

Upon receipt of the applications, our assessment panel will review all applications and put forward those that meet the minimum requirements. If your application does not meet these requirements, we will let you know at this stage. 

Eligible projects will then be judged by a jury of British Council and cultural sector professionals (all jury members are required to sign confidentiality and conflict of interest forms). They will select 4 small and 5 large grants per area.

Can I get feedback if my application was unsuccessful?

Unfortunately due to the volume of applications we anticipate, we are unable to provide feedback to all applicants.

Projects that reach the final stage of shortlisting will receive feedback.

We will also host a post-open call webinar to discuss the common pitfalls we saw in applications, which will be open to all unsuccessful applicants. 

When should the project be carried out?

Projects will take place between 1 January 2021 - 31 December 2021.

Can I access my application?

Applicants can access their completed applications via this link:

See also