Despite the cuts that have been universally applied across the creative industries in recent years, several funding opportunities are available for musicians, offering opportunities for employment and creative participation.
Funding awards can be fiercely competitive, but artists can improve their chance of success by applying only for the opportunities that match to their circumstances/ideas and by completing application forms as accurately and effectively as possible. See Completing a Funding Application.
Some of the most popular funding bodies and awards include:
Arts Council England (ACE)
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people's lives. We invest money from government and the National Lottery in arts and culture across England. This funds a wide range of activities – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, crafts to collections.
ACE offers a range of funding opportunities for both artists and arts organisations including. Awards available for artists include:
Artists International Development Fund offers early stage development opportunities for individual freelance and self employed artists based in England to spend time building links with artists, organisations and/or creative producers in another country. NB: applications are not yet being accepted for this fund.
Grants for the Arts is our Lottery-funded grant programme for individuals, arts organisations and other people who use the arts in their work. Grants are available for activities carried out over a set period and which engage people in England in arts activities and help artists and arts organisations in England carry out their work.
PRS for Music Foundation
Our mission is to stimulate and support the creation and performance of new music throughout the UK and to ensure that this music is enjoyed by a wide audience. Since March 2000 we have supported over 4,600 new music initiatives to the tune of over £19.5 million.
We do this through open grant schemes which are available to musicians and organisations four times per year and partnership programmes which we lead in response to specific needs and gaps in funding. PRS Music Foundation
Current funding opportunities for artists include:
Open Funding: This supports 1) the creation and performance of outstanding new music in any genre 2) developing artists to their full potential and 3) inspiring audiences.
Momentum funding: Grants of £5k-£15k for artists and bands to break through to the next level of their career.
International Showcase Fund: Run in partnership with British Underground, UK Trade & Investment, Arts Council England and The MU, the International Showcase Fund offers support for UK artists to reach a worldwide audience through performing at key showcasing festivals and conferences.
Women Make Music: Financial support of up to £5000 is available, and new music in any genre is welcome.
Bliss Trust Composer Bursaries: We partner with The Bliss Trust to support emerging composers living and working in the UK who are seeking funds to assist with professional development in the field of contemporary classical music.
Help Musicians UK
Help Musicians UK is the leading UK charity for professional musicians of all genres, from starting out through to retirement. We help at times of crisis, but also at times of opportunity, giving people the extra support they need at a crucial stage that could make or break their career
Help Musicians offers awards for Emerging Musicians, including:
The Emerging Artist Fund is a new partnership between PledgeMusic and Help Musicians UK. The fund is offering 24 artists or bands the chance to receive funding from Help Musicians UK when they run a successful PledgeMusic campaign. The aim is to identify and support a diverse range of emerging artists who have the talent and the ‘DIY’ drive to build a long-term career. Grants will usually be £2,000-£5,000. Apply via the application form on the PledgeMusic website.
Advance Training: Training costs money and it can take years just to get to the point of launching a career. That’s why we help more than 100 musicians every year with grants at crucial stages in their development. This includes grants towards the cost of postgraduate study at conservatoires and performing colleges – covering classical music performance, opera, jazz and musical theatre.
NB: nomination for this award needs to be completed by educational institutions as opposed to individual artists.
Emerging Professionals - If you are a musician at the start of your career and already making a significant impact, we may be able to help you reach the next level. We realise that many musicians need support at this exciting but challenging time.
Funding is also available for Music students who suffer from a performance-related condition as part of their Music Student Health Scheme.
Funding Wizard: Help Musicians UK also offers a comprehensive list of funding which is searchable via their funding wizard. .
Steve Reid InNOVAtion Award: For unsigned artists. Cash bursaries and mentorship from the Steve Reid Foundation trustees which include pioneering artists Gilles Peterson, Four Tet, Theo Parrish, Floating Points, RocketnumberNine, Emanative and Charlie Dark.
The Music Export Growth Scheme was launched in 2014 and offers small and medium-sized music companies with the potential to achieve increased international success the opportunity to apply for grants ranging from £5,000 to £50,000. The grants support their marketing overseas and the promotion of specific artist releases.
The scheme, funded by UKTI, will make up to £3m of grants available over a three-year period – with the potential for further funding following the scheme’s first annual review. Applications are open to all UK independent record labels and music management companies meeting the application criteria. Decisions on individual awards will be made by a panel of music industry experts with marketing expertise from organisations including the Music Managers Forum (MMF), representatives of independent record labels and BPI. The scheme will be administered by BPI.
Creative Scotland distributes funding from two primary sources, the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. As well as supporting arts organisations across Scotland, support is also available for the development of individuals, the funding of ideas, and new work and projects.
Cultural Enterprise Office
The Cultural Enterprise Office provides business support to creative businesses across Scotland. These include guides to funding available from a range of sources and to making applications and proposals.
Arts Council of Northern Ireland
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland supports the full range of arts activities throughout Northern Ireland. As well as funding arts organisations there are a range of support schemes for individuals.
Plus the MU offers the following benefits as part of membership:
- Maternity/Paternity/Adoption grant of £250 (per child).
- Benevolent Assistance – members can apply to their Regional Office for financial assistance in times of need.