This 2024, we are launching our Festival Connect Fund, which enables new and innovative ways for connections, mobility, and exchanges and showcases contemporary arts between festivals across Africa and internationally. The Festival Connect Fund seeks grant proposals from festivals across various art forms such as Creative Technology, Dance, Film, Literature, Music, Theatre, and/or multi-disciplinary arts.

We acknowledge the broad diversity of festivals and in this regard welcome applications from festival organisations operating either annual, triennial, or biennial festival programmes both face-to-face and online.

The programme recognises the role of festivals in Africa as an embodiment of the traditions, values, and dreams of a place and its people as well as a catalyst to stimulate local economies, foster social connections, and enrich the lives of those who attend. In a world marked by rapid change, festivals remain essential in preserving the spirit and vitality of communities across Africa. It is against this backdrop, that we are providing an opportunity for festivals in Africa to apply for grants to collaborate, increase access for their audiences to both regional and international artists, and provide opportunities for experimentation and showcasing. Festivals that have been in operation for at least two biennales or three editions inclusive of both physical and digital editions are encouraged to apply.

Objectives of the Festival Connect Fund

The objectives of the Festival Connect Fund are to:

  • create opportunities between festival peers in Africa and internationally that can lead to future creative collaborations, co-commissions, and partnership projects.
  • support festival-making and artistic expressions including community engagement during festivals that can lead to a meaningful social and economic impact.
  • provide space for experimentation with creative technology (digital festivals included) to develop new experiences.
  • build new cross-regional collaborations focused on access to the market and the potential of festivals in bridging cultures in Africa and internationally.
  • improve the festival value chain including targeting tour-ready work and supporting the professionalisation of festival management through capacity-building.
  • support mobility for festival directors, curators, and managers within Africa to support professional exchanges and development.
  • develop data-driven innovation and research into the festival sector across Africa – to inspire innovations from creators in artistic work, audience experiences, or research products and services that use/generate data.

Outcomes of the Festival Connect Fund

We expect the Festival Connect Fund to help achieve the following strategic outcomes between 2024 - 2027:

  • new festival partnerships and exchanges developed, and existing ones strengthened between festivals in Africa and/or the United Kingdom (UK), artists, curators, and managers.
  • increased public engagement through access to regional and international artists.
  • African festivals connecting to showcase work to support collaborative projects.
  • the development of a network of festival curators and managers and represented festivals across the region.
  • access to data-driven research on the festival sector in Africa to foster an understanding of festivals in operation in the region and strengthen collaborations, engagements, and networks in the wider festival ecosystem.
  • Shape communities, catalyse artistic innovation, and contribute to social impact.

Which countries are eligible?

This call is open to festivals engaging with all art forms in the following countries:

Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

How much funding is available for applicants?

A total of £200,000 is available for festivals in the eligible countries to support collaborations, exchanges, mobility, and showcasing on scales ranging from £ 10,000 – £ 40,000 maximum per application.

A maximum of two applications will be accepted per festival.

There are three tiers of funding available.

Tier one: Festivals can apply for grants to the value of £10,000.

Tier two: Festivals can apply for grants of no less than £10,000 but not exceeding £20,000.

Tier three: Festivals can apply for grants of no less than £20,000 but not exceeding £40,000. Festivals applying for tier three grants must be able to demonstrate their capacity to manage grants and provide supporting evidence with their applications.

The table outlines an estimate of capped funding including suggested activities.

Activity Amount
Showcasing (virtual events An estimate of £2,000 per event *Depending on the number of virtual showcasing events proposed
Mobility across Africa An estimate of £2,500 for travel for a solo festival lead/artist

Co-production (this can include workshops,

residencies, and performances)

£10,000 - £40,000
Showcasing (physical events) £10,000 - £40,000

What can festivals apply for under the Festival Connect Fund?

Festivals can apply for the following activities:

  • commissioning, co-production, development, or presentation of new or remounted work from across countries in Africa and internationally. These may include live/in-person and digital components.
  • community engagement programme /arts events alongside the festival
  • other associated activities including mobility and travel to support festival development, partnership building etc. that support the festival programme.
  • administrative and technical costs towards managing/producing the festival, up to 30% of the grant amount applied for.

 What can this look like?

  • Programming of young, emerging artists between African festivals
  • Incubation of existing art (e.g. a piece that already exists that would benefit from further development)
  • Cross programming, co-production, and/or curation of work
  •  Experimentation between festivals/artists

 You may also apply for funding for activity costs that your festival expects to incur.

These might include:

  • Artists’ fees (including performance fees)
  • Venue-rental costs
  • Staff costs (e.g. administrative, technical, and front-of-house support directly related to the festival)
  • Audience engagement – activity carried out to develop ongoing relationships with current and new audiences.
  • Marketing and publicity costs
  • Technical and production costs
  • Travel costs and expenses for artists.
  • A contribution to the festival programme archiving.

 This fund is not open to the following:

  • non-arts festivals (e.g. food and wine festivals, wellness festivals, carnivals/parades) or arts activity within non-arts festivals

What should one consider when applying?

The applicant should be able to engage with a range of audiences and numbers. Festivals must be able to demonstrate that through festival activities that are delivered face to face and/or online or that take on a hybrid approach, they can reach at least:

  • 200 people through face-to-face engagement
  • 500 people through online engagement (excluding impressions)

All festival activity should be undertaken between May 2024 and April 2025.

Strong applications should be able to demonstrate:

  1.  a confirmed partnership or booking between festivals, organizations, and/or artists.
  2.  the ability to either strengthen existing and/or develop new partnerships for the festival which support exchanges between African festivals.
  3. increased showcasing and public engagement opportunities for African and/or international artists with new audiences
  4. increased visibility and knowledge about festivals across Africa
  5. demonstrate strong festival and financial management skills.
  6. a commitment to implement sustainable practices that reduce the festival’s environmental impact.

If the application is proposing to programme artists, the artist needs to come from any of the eligible countries. Preference will be given to festivals that provide opportunities for artists aged between 18 – 35 years to participate, collaborate, and showcase their creative work.

Selection Timeline

Date Item
16 Feb 2024 ToRs published
05 March 2024 External information session
31 March 2024 Deadline for submission of proposals
8th April 2024 Final decision
25th April 2024 Contract concluded with winning supplier
02 May 2024 Contract start date

Can one apply as an artist/creative?

The application for this opportunity needs to be led by a festival based in the eligible countries in Africa. If an individual or creative is interested in participating in a festival, it is recommended that they get in touch with a festival of interest to apply on their behalf.

Will the British Council support with introductions to artists and/or festivals?

Applicants are required to have enabled their own connections with the artists or festivals they would like to work with. British Council will not be facilitating these connections.

Is one able to attend a festival as a festival organiser, producer, director, and/or manager to learn from other festivals as a professional development opportunity?

The hosting festival will need to include this in their full application under the mobility strand.

Can the requested amount be under £10,000 or over £40, 000?

The funding request for the project can be anywhere from £0 to £10,000 as stipulated in the three different tiers. The requested amount should cover the proposed activity within your festival but is not intended to fully resource the running of the festival. It is understood and accepted that if you have specific technical, administrative, and marketing fee costs related to the activity, you can include them in the proposal, so long as they relate to the project. If your budget is over £40,000 you need to indicate how the festival will cover the shortfall.

Can a festival apply if they are a past or present recipient of a British Council grant?

Yes. If you currently hold a British Council Grant for your existing festival activity, please specify how your #FestivalConnect Fund application will not be a duplication of activity and how the festival will increase capacity to support the administration of an additional grant.

Visas: What help can the British Council provide?

If your application is successful, we can support festivals on guidance on how to apply and a supporting letter for the travelling artists to support their applications across the region and/or the UK. We have no influence or connection with the visa offices whatsoever, so appropriate lead time must be given for the application of visas. We can offer guidance and advise as to what visas are best to apply for.

Is collaboration with a UK partner mandatory?

No, the support to be granted can be related to a collaborative project with a UK company, artist, professional or organisation, but it is not mandatory. African-based festivals interested in collaborating with UK partners/festivals are responsible for contacting and agreeing to collaborate with the UK partner. The British Council does not have a centralised directory of artists, and each festival is free to contact the artists or organisations they consider relevant to carry out the collaboration through which they will apply for funding. It is desirable to have the confirmation and commitment of the British counterpart at the time of the application, for which a letter of intent signed by both parties is requested as an option.