Discover Bursaries Programme

The Discover Programme empowers those who are curious about creating work in the outdoor arts sector by offering a unique series of sessions with industry practitioners. The programme launched in 2019 and was reformatted in 2021 to take place online.

Discover Programme 2021

Building on the success of the Discover bursary programme in 2019, this year the programme has been reformatted to take place as an online programme, delivered by Without Walls in association with The Arches Worcester Festivals at Severn Arts

Following an open call that attracted over 80 applicants, the programme supported 16 successful participants to attend a series of guided sessions with industry practitioners taking place across 4 online sessions in March 2021.

Sessions outline:

  • Meet the artists: An opportunity to meet artists and directors who have created and toured work in the outdoor sector for many years.
  • Meet the producers: A range of experienced producers familiar with the outdoor arts sector in the UK and internationally shared the secrets of their success and offered practical advice on the rigours of touring, managing the budget and useful dos and don’ts.
  • Meet the festivals: Some of the leading artistic directors of festivals in the country, offering an insight into the programming process and learn how best to present your work and make approaches and relationships.
  • Meet the strategic organisations: Some of the key strategic organisations who work in outdoor arts will share vital information for artists about how to get ready to create and tour work; advice on funding, building networks, giving vital insight into key developments in policy, planning and sector development.

Through a unique series of group sessions with industry practitioners, this year’s Discover offered a broad insight into, and understanding of, what working in outdoor arts means. A key aim of this programme was to increase the representation of those who are currently underrepresented across the sector, particularly people who are ethnically and culturally diverse, people who experience racism, and people who are disabled.

Screenshot of a zoom video call, with sixteen people smiling.

“It was amazing to be part of the cohort, meet other artists who are doing similar work across the UK.” – Michaela Cisarikova, Discover 2021 Participant

“So many inspirational speakers and was facilitated in a very professional way, all the while putting everyone at ease to be able ask questions as they came up.” – Gina Chan Martinez

Discover Programme 2019

We piloted the Without Walls Discover Bursary Programme for the first time in September 2019 and benefited 16 artists with a package of support to attend one or more festivals in the Without Walls network. 8 travelled from across the UK to attend the Out There International Festival of Circus and Street Arts, Great Yarmouth (13-15 September) and 10 attended Arts by the Sea, Bournemouth (27-29 September).

Members of XTRAX team facilitated the festival visits with contributions from representatives from Without Walls festivals.

Each weekend schedule included:

  • A briefing session including an introduction to Without Walls
  • A presentation on some key considerations for making and presenting outdoor work
  • A guided programme of shows to see, taking in a diverse range of art forms, and flexible to accommodate the interests of the individuals in the group
  • Critical feedback and reflection time through group discussion
  • Coordinated opportunities to meet artists, festival directors and other practitioners
  • Group meals and introductions to the rest of the group

The 2019 programme supported the artistic development of artists new to the field of outdoor arts through attending key festivals and events; exposing artists to a wide range of work, broadening their range of artistic reference points and influences, developing their understanding of the outdoor arts context and providing networking opportunities with key industry contacts.

A key aim of this programme was to increase the representation in the sector of practitioners who identify as Black, Asian and ethnically diverse or Deaf or disabled, encouraging long-term development of their artistic practice.

“By far the best opportunity I have had to learn the ins and outs of outdoor arts and networks with so many artists, organisations and inspiring people… It was such a pleasant surprise to come to such an open space with wonderful people and find guidance in the form of people who knew what they were doing.” – Discover 2019 participant

2019 Participants

  • Alex Rinsler
  • Alison Holder
  • Anna Alvarez
  • David Bennie
  • Debbie Bandara
  • Etta Ermini
  • Hazel Lam
  • Jamaal Burkmar
  • Kwesi Johnson
  • Ling Tan
  • Paul Smith
  • Pierre Palluet
  • Rinkoo Barpaga
  • Stephanie Applin
  • Suba Subramaniam
  • Sonny Nwachukwu

2021 Participants

  • Aoi Nakamura – Artistic Dir., AOE
  • Bryony Farrant-Davis – Creative Engagement & Community Producer
  • Natalie Verhaegen –  Artistic Dir., Loose End Physical Theatre
  • Ella Mesma – Artistic Dir,, Ella Mesma Company
  • Gina Chan Martinez – Mass movement choreographer + live-action consultant
  • Mahandra Patel – Founder, teacher & performer, Kadence Music
  • Olivia Altaras – Designer, Maker & Community Artist
  • Sonia Sabri – Artistic Dir., Sonia Sabri Company
  • Lauren Banks – Young Peoples Producer, Contact
  • Louise Brown – Co-Artistic Dir., Velcro Collective
  • Michaela Cisarikova – Choreographer & teacher, Michaela Cisarikova Dance  Company
  • Nadia Iftkhar – Artistic Dir. & CEO, Company of Others
  • Sushmita Pati – Artistic Dir. / Producer, Kala the Arts
  • Symoné S – Director / Performer, Fierce Flow
  • Talita Moffatt – Producer, Trade Arts
  • Urja Thakore – Artistic Dir., Pagrav Dance

Interested in the Discover Bursaries Programme?

If you are interested in taking part in future editions of the Discover programme, please contact