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How to put together a Funding Application


The purpose of a funding bid is to convince a funding body to give a portion of its funds to your production, rather than to the other productions applying for funding. As a result, it should aim to answer three questions:

  • Why is your production a worthwhile project?

  • What kind of return on their investment can a funding body expect by investing in your production?

  • How can the funding body be sure that your production will be delivered as it is described in your bid?


You should start by reading through your venue bid because much of what was presented there can be reworked and repurposed.

Why is your production a worthwhile project?

The first question should be answered through the director and designer statements. You need to show the artistic merit of your production and enthuse your potential funders about why the show is going to be exciting and interesting. This should be largely similar to your venue bid.


What kind of return on their investment can a funding body expect?


This second question can require more of a change from your venue bid: you should present a clear budget and show how it will be managed. The treasurer of each funding body in particular will want to hear how the money they give to the production will be managed – they need to be sure that they will get their money back with a profit on top and so you should ensure that your budget accurately reflects your production costs and that your breakeven percentage and number of seats is achievable. You can use the producer’s statement to explain why your breakeven and budget are realistic and achievable. You may also want to use the marketing statement to outline how the seats will be filled and who will buy tickets to make this a financially stable production.

  • You will need to make sure that these figures around the breakeven are front and centre in your bid – you will want to insert a covering page giving just the key headline figures.

  • It is recommended that 65% is a strong upper limit for your breakeven – even this can be a difficult figure to achieve. If it is more than this, you will need to provide a compelling answer to the question of how you will ensure that you sell enough tickets to cover your expenses.

How can the funding body be sure that your production will be delivered as per the bid?


This final question requires you to outline how you will get the production from the funding bid to the stage. This is a question of outlining the processes each department will take and how the team will function as a whole. You may wish to use the producer’s and/or director’s statement to outline this, if you haven’t already in your venue bid.


The budget will also be examined to answer this question as funding bodies will seek to challenge whether or not you have budgeted accurately for how much the production is likely to cost. The budget is a key part of any funding bid, so you should make sure that it is accurately prepared. As far as changes from your venue bid are concerned, consider adding budget break-downs with itemised costs for individual departments, if they exist at the time you apply for funding (don’t forget to include VAT!). Adding cost break-downs will show the funding body committees that you have thought about your expenses in detail and that you have practical plans on how to achieve your vision on the production. Funding body committees are largely made up of students with a large amount of experience on theatrical productions, so questions they ask here are designed to help you consider the amount it costs to realise the show in the bid.

In summary, there is no fixed recipe on how different a venue bid and a funding bid need to be, because all venue bids are different. If your venue bid already provides good answers to the three questions outlined above, there is no requirement to change it, unless your plans for the production and/or budget have changed. You should also consider whether your venue bid contains any information which does not contribute to any of the questions above, and shorten it when applying for funding in that case.


Admin Checklist

  • Is your production company registered?

  • Have you included a covering page to your bid listing the key information, e.g. break-even percentage?

Budget Checklist

  • Are you using the OUDS budget template (strongly recommended, especially for new companies)?

  • Is your break-even under 65%, or if not, do you have a good explanation for that?

  • Is your marketing budget around 10% of your total expenditure?

  • Have you included the cost of box office commission on your budget?

  • Have you included the cost of insurance in your budget?

  • Have you updated your budget since your venue was confirmed?

Bid Checklist

  • Does your bid include statements from the Director, Producer, a designer, and your marketing manager?

  • Will you have held a production meeting prior to your interview?

  • Have you updated your bid since your venue was confirmed?

Even experienced teams are recommended to read through the budget supporting notes to ensure their budget is thorough and accurate.

You are reminded that forecast expenditure often changes between the point of bidding to a venue and bidding to a funding body: ensure that the submitted budget is the most up to date version. You may wish to consult with your venue contact to check that the budget is accurate for their expectations, too.

Confused about the meaning of various terms used when talking about funding?

Read our glossary of funding terms here

When your funding application is complete, you can submit it to OUDS here. Note that funding interviews take place on a termly basis, so if you apply early in term, you will still have to wait until 8th week for your interview. The formal opening of applications will be announced via the OUDS Newsletter around 5th week of each term.

For Michaelmas 2020, applications will be late in summer and you should consider the extra challenges involved in putting on socially distanced theatre when you apply for funding. Some extra guidance for MT20 funding applications can be found here: 

'A Midsummer Night's Dream', Magdalen Players, TT23

Photo by Freddie Houlahan

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