£10,000 Outdoor Dance Commissions Brief

Dance City and Festival of Thrift


Dance City and Festival of Thrift are inviting dance artists/companies, that specialise in participatory work, to create a new outdoor work to be co-commissioned by Dance City and Festival of Thrift to be presented at this year’s Festival.

This co-commission is part of Dance City’s Inside Out project, which is made possible thanks to the Esmee Fairburn Foundation Re-Imagining Performing Arts fund.


Dance City

Established for over 35 years Dance City is the North East’s leading development organisation for dance, which exists to lead and support a thriving dance ecology in the region.

Dance City presents a regular programme of dance performances from contemporary to ballet, to breakdance bringing leading North East, British and international dance to Newcastle upon Tyne.

It also commissions original new works, which premiere in its theatre and beyond. Dance City’s vision is to ensure that the North East is the best place to be a professional dance artist. Its mission is to provide excellent training, support, networking and funding opportunities for North East professional dance/movement artists.

As the only regional commissioning body for dance, Dance City has been reviewing its commissioning processes making them more inclusive and accessible to all forms of dance work, such as live stage performances, outdoor work, and dance film, striving to find new ways to support exciting new choreography.

Festival of Thrift

Festival of Thrift positions artists as inspirers to action and encourage change through a free programme of workshops, exhibitions and performances giving families the confidence to create while having fun on a budget. Festival of Thrift CIC was established in 2015 with a mission to benefit the community and advance public awareness of sustainable living.

Now based in Redcar, Festival of Thrift reaches new audiences from all over the UK year on year, building new partnerships with organisations who share its ethos.

Festival of Thrift’s focus has always been on how individuals can make those small changes – the shift to thrift – that will add up to a big difference for the future of our planet, and encourage others to join in.

Dandyism by Patrick Ziza Dance at Festival of Thrift 2021

The Event

Festival of Thrift is the UK’s national Festival of sustainability.

Usually taking place over two days in Kirkleatham near Redcar on the North East coast, this hugely popular festival celebrates the joys of a climate-friendly way of life. Families, fashionistas, foodies, upcyclers, recyclers and eco-warriors are amongst the thousands who flock to the festival each year to make, eat, play, share and learn through a host of activities and entertainment.

The Festival takes place over a large greenfield site across the village of Kirkleatham, near Redcar on the North East Coast. The site is spread over a variety of settings including hardstanding, grassed, woodland, tented, outdoor & indoor with activity also taking place in the Museum, Walled Garden, church & school.

Festival of Thrift is set to return to Kirkleatham on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September 2022.


Dance City and Festival of Thrift are inviting one dance artist or company to create a new outdoor work to be commissioned for Festival of Thrift 2022.

Dance City has an exemplary track record in commissioning and programming indoor dance works, and through this commission is looking to broaden its reach to connect with more artists, audiences and places across the region, by taking dance outside of its purpose-built facilities to spaces where communities meet.

Festival of Thrift regularly programmes and commissions new outdoor works including temporary public artworks and performance.

The Festival will, this year, present a programme of activity centred around the theme Our Common Wealth, which centres around sharing – skills, knowledge, food – as well as exploring those things that we have in common. It coincides with the year of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and there is scope to explore the notion of the commonwealth in that context also.

Because of this theme, we are interested in expressions of interest from artists/companies who have experience in delivering participatory dance performance, which will allow for the involvement of local people in its presentation.

Artists are asked to respond to the theme of Our Common Wealth in the content of the work, and they may also wish to respond to the festival’s broader themes of Future Sustainability, to be interpreted in whichever way they see fit.

We are seeking creative ideas that are high quality, engaging and accessible, but also challenging and thought provoking. We are particularly interested in those which are site specific/sympathetic and forward looking. Artists must demonstrate that the work is relevant to its context and that it properly responds to the theme.

For this commission, we would like proposals to include a participatory element, please ensure this is detailed in your proposal.

We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and we expect to see proposals that do not need to be powered in any way or which utilise low energy formats and consider transport distances. We also expect proposals which take into consideration sustainable options for production of set, props, and costumes.


Proposals should be for new commissions or work currently at an early stage of research and development. Proposals for the presentation or adaptation of existing works will not be accepted.

This opportunity is open to regional and national artists. We also welcome artists/companies applying for this commission to consider collaborating with artists working within other disciplines.

The artist/company can be makers of dance of any genre. Artists are welcome to work with collaborators from other mediums in the development of the work.

The Artist/Company should have experience of delivering participatory projects or be able to demonstrate an interest in developing their work to involve participation, but in this case the Artist/Company must be able to demonstrate the measures they will implement in this project to ensure the success of this element. For example, you may wish to collaborate with a participatory performance director, etc.

The work can be any style of dance or movement.

The work must be of a professional standard and feature professional artists, alongside non-professional participants.

We actively encourage applications from artists who self-identify as Black, Asian, ethnically diverse, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, d/Deaf, neurodiverse, and disabled.


The work will be presented on the Festival of Thrift site, which is in the village of Kirkleatham near Redcar on the North East coast.

We are particularly interested in proposals which are site specific/sympathetic and have therefore not specified locations for the work and encourage artists to consider where they would like the work to be sited.

The sites across Kirkleatham are very varied and include grassed areas (fields and lawns), hardstanding (roads, paving and car parks), an enclosed stable block with courtyard, a walled garden, woodlands with paths, a church and church yard.

Works can be proposed for specific sites within the village, or for more generic siting, for example on level hard standing. Please detail this in your proposal.

An illustrated plan of the Festival site can be found here.

You may wish to undertake your own site visit in advance of submitting a proposal, but this will be at your own expense.

Key Considerations

The most important consideration is how the piece will work within the context of an outdoor festival for a large and transient audience with a huge amount to see and do during their visit. Below are some specifics you should bear in mind whilst coming up with your outline idea:

  • In 2021 Festival of Thrift attracted a very large audience of 50,000 people over the two-day event. Proposals should consider how a large, standing audience will have the best experience of the work.
  • The event will go ahead in all but the most inclement of weathers. Performances must be designed to reliably withstand all weathers for the duration of the event. Therefore set, costume and performance should take account of potential light rain and/or wind.
  • Performances should be no longer than 30 minutes in length.
  • The Festival attracts a very broad audience across all age ranges and is particularly popular with family groups including young children.
  • Three weeks of studio space, and one day of technical support for the development/rehearsal process of the work will be provided by Dance City. If the work requires more than this it should be factored into the budget.
  • Transport of performers, set/props and costume to the site should be factored into the budget for the work.
  • A technical rehearsal onsite can take place on Friday 23 September.
  • The Festival is open to the public from 10am until 5pm each day. Please consider the number of performances that will be possible per day.
  • You will be required to provide a risk assessment for approval by Dance City and Festival of Thrift, including how the performance will adhere to COVID-19 restrictions for performers and audiences.
  • Artists and performers must have Public Liability Insurance.
  • The artist/company is responsible for seeking all permissions and licenses for music used, and gaining correct approval from PRS, including paying any royalties due.
  • Artists may also wish to consider how they might create the work to be promoted beyond its presentation at Festival of Thrift.
  • We would welcome creative approaches to documenting the making process of the work to be shared with both commissioners and through marketing activity if appropriate.

Support to the artist/company includes:

  • Producer support and advice throughout the development and making process from Dance City and Festival of Thrift.
  • One day of technical support from Dance City for the development and making process.
  • Technical support from Festival of Thrift for the install, tech rehearsal onsite, duration and de install at Festival of Thrift.
  • Local advice on community engagement from Festival of Thrift.
  • Three weeks of studio space at Dance City Sunderland on 5-9 September,12-16 September and 19–23 September 2022.
  • Marketing support via Dance City and Festival of Thrift.


The inclusive budget available for this commission and performances is £10,000 (inclusive of VAT).

The commission total is inclusive of all artists fees, collaborator fees, materials, costume, set, props, technical equipment hires, transport, travel, accommodation, and subsistence costs associated with the work, so your initial indicative budget will need to demonstrate this.


Announcement of Co-Commission Call Out Wednesday 23 March 2022
Application Deadline Wednesday 4 May 2022
Reading of Applications by panel Thursday 5 and/or Friday 6 May 2022
Shortlisting of Applications Panel Meeting Monday 9 May 2022
Artists invited to Interview Tuesday 10 May 2022
Interviews Tuesday 17 and/or Wednesday 18 May 2022
Artists notified of outcome Monday 23 May 2022
Artists to provide biog, image etc. Friday 27 May 2022

Application Process

Artists are asked to complete a written application form via the link below:

Dance City Festival of Thrift – 2022 Co-Commission – Application Form

Full details of the questions in the application form are listed below.

Applications will be shortlisted, and shortlisted artists will be invited to interview. The panel will then choose one artist to realise their proposed idea.

Video/verbal Applications

We can accept expressions of interest in the form of video, with responses following the same questions as in the written expression of interest, or we can arrange a face-to-face meeting with one of our team as a verbal expression of interest.

Please submit video applications by email to Alex Anslow Alex.Anslow@dancecity.co.uk or contact Alex if you wish to set up a face-to-face meeting to deliver a verbal application.

If you have any access requirements and need support with the application process, please contact Alex Anslow at Dance City: Alex.Anslow@dancecity.co.uk

Submitting your application

This link takes you to Dropbox where you can submit your application form: https://www.dropbox.com/request/zBQfa6tH9hzowjwEJe4x . All submission details are on the link.  If you have any problems using this link please contact Giulia Coti Zelati, giulia.cotizelati@dancecity.co.uk or 0191 261 0505 or send the documents via We Transfer directly to Alex Anslow, alex.anslow@dancecity.co.uk by 10am, 9 May 2022.

Applications received after this date will not be considered.

If you have any questions or would like to talk about your idea ahead of the application deadline you can book a 15-minute conversation with one of our Artistic Team. Please contact Alex Anslow alex.anslow@dancecity.co.uk or call 0191 261 0505 to book this. 

Application Questions

  1. Please tell us about your recent artistic work, experience, and achievements. (250 words)

For example, your artistic interests, style, and inspiration for your work. What have you previously made?

  1. What experience do you have making outdoor or site-specific work? If none, please identify what you see as the key differences. (250 words)
  2. What is your experience of delivering participatory projects, or working with participants in the development and presentation of your work? (250 words)
  3. Please outline how you incorporate equality, inclusion and diversity within your work and practice (250 words)
  4. Please outline how you incorporate environmental sustainability into your work and practice (250 words)
  5. What is your artistic concept for the Commission? (300 words)

Please describe the idea for your artistic work.

  1. Describe the site that you would like the work to be presented in (150 words)

This can be the ideal type of location (e.g., level hard standing, on grass, amongst trees, a particular dimension of performance area, etc.), or a particular site you have identified.

  1. What attracted you to this opportunity? (150 words)
  2. Please outline how you might engage the public in the making of this work. Does the work have opportunities for engagement? If yes, please tell us more (250 words)
  • Do you have any producing or mentoring support for this project? (250 words)

If so, please include their details below. If not, please outline who you would like to work with, or if your project is self-produced please tell us your experience and expectations for this project.

  • Please detail your current or prospective creative team (e.g dramaturg, costume designer, producer etc) (150 words)
  • Please provide a rough timeline for the creation, rehearsal and delivery of the work
  • Supporting Materials (max. 5 files)

Please provide us with materials in support of your proposal – these may include examples of previous work, reviews, testimonials, designs, sketches or mood boards for of the proposed work, biography/CV, or anything else you think will support your proposal. Files can include images, video, sound files or documents (including Word, PDF, PowerPoint, Excel). Maximum 10mg per file.

  • Please outline how you propose to use the budget for this opportunity, by attaching a budget overview, in excel format. This should include the full costs of the project.