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

You can apply for a small grant (£10-20k) or a large grant (£40-50k) 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. Ideally, upon completion, we’d like to see a full project proposal with details on how you will take the project forward in the future. 

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.

This grant will not be offered for organisations to repeat completed physical projects virtually. Applicants will need to specify in the application what the original project plan was, how the project has been affected by Covid, and how you intend to safely restart the project. 

Collaboration grants:
These grants are offered for new projects and can include a research and development phase. We’ve included a list of the types of projects we are expecting to fund below but we’re open to new ideas. 

All projects should be designed and delivered in collaboration. 

We particularly invite collaborations that focus on gender, race, ethnicity, disability, inclusion, ageing and other areas of diversity.

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 and how can I ensure my project is ODA eligible?

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. 

Ensuring your project is ODA compliant:

When applying, you should consider the following questions to ensure your project is ODA compliant: 

  • Is the project addressing the social and economic development of the country in question? • Is there a development need that my project or activity is addressing?
  • What is the evidence of the need?
  • How will this project or activity be applied in the country?
  • What will the impact of my project or activity be, and who will benefit?
  • How will my project or activity contribute to sustainable development?
  • How will success or impact be measured? 

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. 

What should my portfolio include?

Portfolios should give the jury an idea of the quality of work that your organisations have delivered.

You may add a portfolio from the lead organisation and the partner organisation, you may add an additional third portfolio if your organisations have previously delivered projects together.

Please keep attachments brief with a maximum of 10 pages per document and no more than 3 documents being uploaded. Please provide in .pdf format.

How will my application be assessed?

Applications will be judged across the following three areas (these areas are also clearly marked in the application form):

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 apply for a grant if I have previously received funding from the British Council?

If you received previous funding for the activity taking place in the grant you are not eligible to apply for funding. If, however, you have received funding from the British Council for research or scoping activity to develop your proposal then you are able to apply for a collaboration grant in order to take the project forward. 

Can I submit multiple applications?

Organisations can be involved in more than one application – however, we are unlikely to fund the same organisation more than once.

When can I expect to hear if I was successful?

Application stage  Date
 Deadline for applications 23:59 GMT 18 November 2020
Successful applicants informed Application review process begins 19 November. All applicants will be notified by 31 December 2020.

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?

Your project must take place between 1 January 2021 - 31 December 2021.

See also