Youth-Led Creativity funding


These FAQs include additional questions given written answers during and after the Q&A webinar we held on 7 February. We recommend watching that webinar and seeing the questions here. If you still have a question, you can email us:

1. About the programme

1. About the programme

1.1 Is Youth-Led Creativity funding separate to your main funding priorities?

No, youth-led creativity is one of our long-term outcomes in our Arts and creativity making change priority in our aim for A Fairer Future. Together with our Involving Young People Collective, we have reimagined the guidance and process for funding towards this outcome.

1.2 Does this programme affect current grants or applications? If I have a current grant or application in progress, could I apply to this funding too?

Current grants are not affected. If you have an application progress, it will be assessed through our main application process, as outlined in emails to you.

If you have a current grant, which has more than 12 months left of the term, you will not be able to apply to this programme.

1.3 Will there be another funding round for Youth-Led Creativity after this one finishes?

We’re not sure yet. We want to review the learning from this programme with funded organisations and our Involving Young People Collective. This will help us to decide how we best support work to achieve this outcome in the future.

1.4 What is the age group of young people? Will you favour applications that reach a wide range within the age bracket? How did you decide on the age range for the programme, and why over 14?

The age range this programme is targeting is 14 to 30 years old. In the webinar, Sam, one of our young consultants expands more on this and what they will be looking at in assessing applications (see 00:07:32 of the webinar)

In terms of the question about reaching a wide range within the age bracket, we recognise different projects are targeted at different age brackets of young people. As long as the young people involved are predominantly between the ages of 14 to 30 years old and the project is youth led it would not impact likelihood of success.

In terms of how we came to the 14 to 30 age group, the Involving Young People Collective have had a lot of conversations about age brackets. The main reason we chose 14+ is because ensuring projects were youth-led was very important to us and we felt that youth-led projects may look very differently for younger children compared to older children. We felt the ways in which young people could lead and participate in projects was quite different for 11 year olds compared to older children and younger people.

1.5 Would you like to see large numbers of young people involved in delivery? Or intensive work conducted with a smaller group?

It depends on your organisation and what would be more suitable for the project. Young people may be involved in different ways and capacities. However, it is important for us that young people are supported in a meaningful way therefore its important that there are enough resources, support and opportunities to support all young people involved so this may limit the amount of young people involved.

1.6 Can you give any examples of youth-led creativity projects which have inspired the design of this fund?

Three examples include Voices That Shake (Catherine mentions them during the webinar), Poetic Unity, and Company Three.

1.7 Do you have a preference in terms of how broad or specific the demographic of the people supported are?

We are open to organisations and projects that work with specific demographics and groups of young people, as well as broader groups of young people as long as they meet can show they understand and have a track record of centering the voices of young people from communities underrepresented in arts and culture.

1.8 In decision-making, will you consider geographical spread? Especially considering organisations based in bigger cities can more easily have a higher profile amongst funders.

Geographical spread is a factor that we will take into consideration. It is important to us to ensure we are funding different regions and areas.

1.9 Are you looking for traditional organisations or organisations attempting to innovate/experiment?

As long as the organisation applying meets the criteria, the fund is open to any organisation applying for this funding - whether it might consider itself traditional or more innovative / experimental.

1.10 Will the quality of the arts/creativity offer with and by young people be taken into account?

We will be looking at impact for change as a key priority (rather than 'judging' the quality of the arts / creativity on offer). The organisation will need to be able to demonstrate how what they do with their young people supports those young people in accessing joy and care, and making change happen .

1.11 Can you share some examples of how you prioritise the joy and care of young people?

This is a new fund and a new criteria for Esmeé. It will be more a question of the way that the organisation prioritises 'joy and care' for young people rather than how Esmée does this.

1.12 Do you also look at the benefit beyond the young people? Or is that more the focus of the learning programme?

Our focus is really on the young people you are engaging with, but if your work also has a wider impact it would be very helpful to know. You could put that in your EOI.

1.13 Would projects that take place within schools, but are not part of the school curriculum be considered?

We can consider projects that take place in schools but we would need to understand the reason for working in the school (e.g. it is the only available space, it is a safe space or the best means of recruitment). However, we cannot fund any curriculum-based work and our assessment would focus on the extent to which the young people involved were leading the project/programme.

2. Applying for funding

2.1 How do I submit an expression of interest?

You can submit your expression of interest using this link.

For more information on what to expect from the expression of interest, see how to apply. We also have Easy Read guidance and a sample expression of interest form, which you can download.

2.2 What is the deadline for submitting an expression of interest?

The deadline for expressions of interest is 5pm on 15 March 2024.

2.3 Can requests for funding be used as match funding?

Yes, but the focus for our funding must be on our aims for Youth-Led Creativity.

2.4 Will Esmée accept applications from two or more organisations working in partnership?

Yes, one organisation will need to apply as the 'lead' - they will be treated as the grant-holding organisation in our system and hold responsibility for the progress of the work.

We'll need the collaboration partners to confirm their involvement. Not all partners have to be registered charities. You'll also nominate two contacts; one from the 'lead' organisation and one of the partners. You can include anticipated costs of setting up and co-ordinating networks or partnerships in your application.

Please note: The 'lead' organisation will need to meet our eligibility criteria for Youth-Led Creativity. If you would like to discuss this further, get in touch by emailing

2.5 Would you recommend 1 to 2 year applications rather than 3 years for new applicants?

We recommend organisations apply for what is best for them. Consider what will enable you to have the best impact.

2.6 Would core costs include compensation for the team?

Yes, you can apply for salaries related to the work.

2.7 Is the funding maximum at £120K per year over 3 years or £120K in total? Would it be possible to apply for £120k for a total of 2 years?

The grants are up to £120k in total i.e. over up to three years. So that can be for one or two years too.

2.8 Would you consider partial funding? For example, if you like a project who applied for £120k, like them but can’t give the full amount, would you consider granting less, or rule them out?

We would consider partial funding a project, if the organisation is able to provide additional funding from their reserves, core costs or other sources of income.

2.9 Can our youth advisory group make an expression of interest or the proposal via video?

Yes the expression of interest can be a video. For the proposal we need a mixture of documents and a conversation. We need some documents about your organisation rather than the work, which you will already have. More information about the documents we need are in our how to apply page.

2.10 Will applying for this fund affect an organisation's ability to apply for other Esmée funding? If our funding is a good fit for this programme, but also a good fit for your main fund, would you recommend prioritising this new fund over applying through your main fund?

It is unusual at Esmée to have two applications or live grants with one organisation. We anticipate an organisation having only one live grant with us. If you have a current grant with Esmée that has more than 12 months left of the term, you would not be able to apply for this fund this time around.

In terms of which area you should apply to if your work is a good fit for more than one, all areas of our funding are very competitive and we expect this fund will be too. I would recommend that you take the route that gives you the best match to our long-term outcomes.

2.11 How long from initial EOI submission would you expect the full application process to take?

We expect to let people know about the outcome of their expression of interest in early May 2024. The remainder of the assessment process will depend on how long it takes us to work with organisations that have been invited to submit a full proposal to go through our due diligence process which helps us to understand your organisation and what you would like us to fund. Final decisions will be made in early September 2024.

2.12 How would your due diligence look around checking for the background work with youth led work?

We'd look at your response to the expression of interest question, about how you describe being youth led, we'd review your website and social media and at proposal stage we'd ask more detail about youth track record and ways of work with examples of how young people lead the work.

2.13 Is there a clear framework available for the expression of interest that would be really accessible for me?

You can find a sample expression of interest form as well as Easy Read guidance here. And if there is any part of the application process feels like a barrier, please contact us and we can talk about alternative arrangements and/or provide an Access Payment of up to £500 to support you to apply. Learn more about accessibility-related support.

3. Eligibility

3.1 Are organisations who aren't charities eligible to apply?

The programme is open to charities, Community Interest Companies (CICs) and other not-for-profit organisations who:

  • 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.
  • have at least three trustees or directors (the majority should be non-executive).
3.2 Can youth organisations that are not arts organisations apply?

Yes, if you are a youth organisation which uses creativity and the project is youth-led you can still apply! You don't have to be a specific arts organisation to apply as long as you are using creativity in some sort of way.

3.3 Will you fund projects in Scotland?

Yes, this programme is available to work across the UK.

3.4 Would a young people's leadership programme which evolved organically within higher education but is now independent be precluded for funding?

The key thing would be how the programme is now constituted. Are you a charity, CIC or constituted organisation that matches our governance. Also as the panel have said the work being youth-led would be the other main criteria.

3.5 Does work have to start in September 2024 or could it start later?

The main work wouldn't necessarily need to begin in September 2024, however, we will be convening the cohort from when the decisions are made in September, in order to co-design the learning programme and begin sharing learning etc, so we would expect a relevant member of your team who is engaged in this work to be participating in those sessions.

3.6 Should careers focus be on progression into creative careers solely or general life skills/other employment? The young people we work with have fed back that the value of the creative work is to their overall progression, skills, employability, activism and their contribution to the world and society - and not just for those who want to work in the arts in the future.

We recognise the importance of creativity to develop skills in general life skills/progression as well as specifically artistically skills. Both of these outcomes are applicable to the fund and we are interested in either or both of them.

3.7 Are you happy for funds to support the needs of Refugee, Asylum Seekers, Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers? If they are already supported through resettlement schemes are they still eligible to access support through this programme?

Yes, we do not see this as a problem.

3.8 If the organisation founders are the directors, can the organisation still apply?

The governance requirement is that there is a majority of non-executive directors so if the founders/directors are all being paid then that would not be eligible. If however, there are more directors who are not paid, it would be eligible.

4. Other questions

4.1 Could you provide any HR guidance/advice around recruiting young people aged 14-30 into paid roles without breaking the law regarding age discrimination?

I'm afraid we are not HR experts and are not able to provide advice on HR. You may be interested in the resources from The Listening Fund (who we partner with) on paying young people.

4.2 Are you able to discuss applications ahead of the deadline?

Unfortunately, we do not have capacity to answer detailed questions for individual organisations prior to application due to the volume of interest we expect to receive.

4.3 What other arts funding are you doing?

We fund the arts through three areas of our strategy. In our ‘Arts and creativity making change’ priority in A Fairer Future, we fund work towards two outcomes:

  • Youth-led creativity, which is the subject of this programme.
  • A representative cultural workforce, which you can apply to through our main application process. We expect to make 8 to 12 grants a year towards this outcome. As demand is very high, we are targeting our support. Learn more in our guidance.

Finally, in Creative, Confident Communities:

  • Community-led creativity is one of our funding priorities. It has a strong emphasis on how creativity is a tool for community cohesion, and community regeneration. You can apply to this priority through our main application process. Learn more in our guidance.

We also have the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, which is delivered by the Museums Association, and supports a range of projects that bring museum collections closer to people.

In addition to grants, we make social investments. Examples of our social investment support include an Arts Transfer Facility to support theatre productions from the (under-resourced) subsidised arts sector to the commercial sector. We are also a co-investor in the Arts and Cultural Impact Fund, which is a social investment fund for arts organisations.

5. I still have a question, who can I contact?

We have a Q&A webinar on 7 February, which you can watch and see the transcript. We updated this page with questions that were given written answers either during or after the webinar.

If you still have a question, you can email us at