02 February 2024

Youth-Led Creativity funding

We're excited to share our plans for our Youth-Led Creativity funding. Co-designed with Esmée's Involving Young People Collective, we are now accepting applications until 5pm on 15 March 2024. On this page you can find the new guidance and details for how to apply.

The Youth-Led Creativity programme builds on young people's power to make change, use creativity to enhance their lives, develop their careers, and influence the world around them.

We are focusing our support on work led by and for young people who have less access to creative programmes or who are underrepresented in arts and culture.

This includes young people who:

  • are D/deaf, disabled or neurodivergent
  • are from communities experiencing racial inequity
  • are economically or educationally disadvantaged
  • identify as LGBT+
  • have migration or care experience

The programme has been co-designed with Esmée’s Involving Young People Collective. A panel of young consultants will play a key role in the assessment process for the Fund. This is to ensure the views and voices of young people are at the heart of the programme.

We will also use the Involving Young People Values to support our decision-making. The values were developed by Esmée’s Involving Young People Collective and offer guidance and learning for organisations on co-production with young people.

Guidance for Youth-Led Creativity funding

About the funding and support
  • We will award £1m in 2024.
  • We will consider requests for project and/or core costs, and single or multi-year grants. The maximum limit that can be applied for is £120k for up to three years.
  • We expect to make 8 to 12 grants.
  • A Learning Programme will run alongside the funding. This will be co-designed by funded organisations and facilitated by a Learning Partner. The Learning Programme will enable peer support and learning. Organisations will be compensated to support participation. Through the Learning Programme, we want to support funded organisations to develop and share their models of practice.

We will review the learning from this fund with the Involving Young People Collective and Learning Programme participants. This will help us to decide how we best support work to achieve this outcome in the future.

Who can apply

We want to support organisations and work that:

  • Is driven and shaped by young people so they can build their confidence and skills. Most of the young people supported need to be aged 14 to 30.
  • Understands and can demonstrate a track record of centering the voices of young people from communities underrepresented in arts and culture. This includes: young people who are D/deaf, disabled or neurodivergent, are from communities experiencing racial inequity, are economically disadvantaged, identify as LGBT+, have migration and/or care experience.
  • Prioritises the joy and care of young people.
  • Uses art and creativity as a tool for young people to use their voice and influence change in their own lives and the world around them.
  • Is driving change for the future either by doing something new, or by using tried and tested models to push things forward.
Who or what can't be funded
  • Organisations that cannot demonstrate strong youth leadership or have not yet started to become youth-led.
  • Work that is part of the school curriculum.
  • Organisations that do not have at least three trustees or directors (the majority of whom should not be paid executives).
  • Organisations that are not registered charities or do not have an asset lock or other way to make sure that the assets of an organisation, including profits or surpluses generated, can only be used for the benefit of its community or to further its activities and mission.
  • Work that is not legally charitable.
  • Work that does not have a direct benefit in the UK.

See how to apply for the full list of exclusions for this programme.

How to apply

There are two stages to applying:

  • Expression of Interest: This stage is for you to tell us you are interested in applying for our funding and support, and for you to let us know, briefly, about your work. The Expression of Interest is designed to save you working on a full application that may not be the best fit for the programme’s aims. Most applications will not get past the Expression of Interest. The deadline to submit an Expression of Interest is 5pm on 15 March 2024.

  • Proposal: This stage is the full application stage, which includes a conversation with us so we can learn more about your work. We will invite you to the Proposal stage if we think your Expression of Interest is a good fit for the programme.

See the How to apply for more information about each step of the process, and what we will consider when making decisions.

Submit your Expression of Interest
Q&A webinar

We hosted a Q&A webinar about the programme on 7 February. Along with the recording, you can find the transcript and presentation slides. We also added additional questions that were given written answers during or after the webinar to our FAQs. We recommend seeing these first. But if you still have a question, please email: youthledcreativity@esmeefairbairn.org.uk.

Learn more