Artists' International Development Fund

Are you a freelance or self-employed artist based in England or Northern Ireland?

“An artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.” The words of photographer Paul Strand seem an appropriate way to introduce the Artists’ international development fund. Set up through partnerships between the British Council and the Arts Councils in England and Northern Ireland, its aim is to open international perspectives for artists and to expand their horizons.

Each year they offer grants of up to £5,000 to freelance or self-employed artists in England and Northern Ireland to help them take their work to a global audience. In 2014 the Arts Council England gave out nearly £200,000 to 51 different artists, who visited countries such as Germany, Japan, Nigeria, India, Israel, Mongolia, Mali, South Africa, South Korea, Brazil, USA and Georgia. So apply today and you could find yourself on a doorstep on the other side of the world.

What does it involve?

There are two separate funding schemes: one with the Arts Council England and one with the Arts Council Northern Ireland.

To apply for funding in Northern Ireland, click here.

To apply for funding in England, click here.

Artists from just about any discipline are welcome to apply, so long as they live in one of those two countries. Previous grants have been awarded for projects involving dance, poetry, street performance, school furniture and microbiology.

The proposal must have a clear explanation of how your work will benefit from the experience, leading to a grant of anything from £1,000 to a maximum of £5,000.

Can I apply?

Applications are now open. Be sure to check Arts Council England, Arts Council Northern Ireland, or sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date with future opportunities.

The basic criteria for applying for grants in either England or Northern Ireland are:

  • you must be over 18 at the time of applying
  • you must not be studying in higher education
  • you must have received recognition for your work
  • you must demonstrate an interest in your work from an overseas partner/host
  • you must not have extensive international experience.

Please note that while grants are only currently available for artists living in England or Northern Ireland, there are similar schemes in the pipeline with Arts Council Wales and Creative Scotland.

You can find a downloadable PDF with full guidelines for applications.

When are the deadlines?

In England, Round 13 of applications closes at 5pm on 15 June 2016. Please note: New applicant profiles must be submitted for validation on the online application system by 5pm Wednesday 1 June. You will not be able to start an application until your applicant profile has been validated 

In Northern Ireland, applications are currently closed.

Just be aware that for either scheme you can only make one application in any financial year (1 April - 31 March).

What will I gain from this?

The Artists’ international development fund is more than just a way to put on an exhibition in another country, it’s your chance to share your passion with others and get your name out there. Previous applicants have talked about the connections and strong network they created from their time abroad and how it’s benefitted them since.

And, of course, there’s the opportunity to immerse yourself in a completely different culture with new sights, sounds, and smells. A whole world of inspiration just waiting to be tapped in to.

What they say

 “The research period has inevitably left me thinking - a lot - about other cultural contexts, relationships between local and international landscapes, communities and their political and artistic ideologies. This experience expanded and further fuelled my thoughts and feelings to do with our experience of time, home, intimacy, community, presence and participation - which I'm itching to unpick in my next artistic project.”

- Luke Pell, awarded £4,945 through the Artists’ international development fund for a 17-day research trip to New York and Washington

Read more about Luke’s experience.