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SWAY commissions


FAQs here

(implies the acting of influences that are not resisted or are irresistible, with resulting change in character or course of action)

Verbal description of the commission on film here

SWAY: 3 small commissions for artists who work with performing bodies.  This could be Circus, Dance, Physical Theatre, Live Art, a mixture; as long as the human body is the predominant means of expression. 

Sway invites artists to think radically about how their creative work impacts on others, to create CHANGE within society, towards better futures.  Not just to touch people but to cause a knock-on effect, that leads to action.  What could happen if we put the creative brains and bodies of this country together, towards positive, effective, kind and different behaviour?  This is on one hand a broad brief – inspire prosocial behaviour – and on another, a restricted palette as it is not for making issue-based work (although that may be an offshoot). It is not for academic research, (unless it is wholly practice-based and involves direct engagement with others).  It is not about having a message and educating people (we do not necessarily know).  It is for brave and different souls to step forwards with a crazy idea that might just work.  It is a moment to reflect on how you might provoke others.  It is an ideas-based experiment in trying to touch the lives of others.  It is hoped to spark trial and error, empathetic and prosocial antagonism.


If you do not understand what we are looking for, that is because we do not know what it is until we see it.


As there are virtually no examples of SWAY out there – coming from Circus or Physical performance – it is difficult to give examples.  However, in the broadest of terms, it could be – a moment of protest, a project to inspire strangers, communicating around difficult themes, a consideration of what the future might hold and how we can talk to our children about it…  Sway is inspired by the work of Mammalian Diving Reflex (‘social acupuncture’ – atypical encounters and belief in the need for discomfort and antagonism to increase social intelligence), Social and Community Circus (although these commissions are not intended to result in performance or therapeutic workshops), other artforms outside of circus that spearhead radical thought, Street Theatre, Actions, Graffiti… 


If your project comes from the heart you will be on the right track.  Don’t spend hours trying to mould a project to fit the criteria because it will be clear if it fits or if it doesn’t, and the less justification the better.  Put the thought into getting excited about what you could do, you do not have to prove that you will be successful, the trying is the thing.


Please keep proposals brief.  A maximum of 250 words (can introduce your idea, you do not need to have worked into the idea yet.)  Describe how you will affect people directly and what effect you would hope to have.  We are looking for tangible, sustained and genuine change for the better.  A link to an example of your work (does not have to be political).  A budget as to how you will use the award.

Finally – 100 words on your own hopes for the future.


There is £2000 per commission and there are 3 possible commissions.  If there is not sufficient quality in the first round of applications we will re-launch the search, as these ideas might take some time to mature.  We advise an allocation of minimum £471/week for artists’ time and that the commission might be used for the value of four weeks of artists’ time and £116 for overheads.  This is only advisory and any well thought out budget will be considered.  It is hoped that this fund will not result in any air travel, no purchasing of unsustainable materials and that all monies will be used ethically and economically.  However, we are looking for quality ideas and integrity of intention not pious altruism.


Sway will tie in with the second Serious Circus Symposium on Feb 15th and 16th 2019, at Jacksons Lane, London.  All commissioned artists will be required to attend the symposium and will present their Sway at the event.  The commission budget will need to reflect the cost of being at the symposium and there will not be expenses to cover your costs of presenting.  You will need to be available for both days of the event in order to be able to input in various ways.  How and what you present will be open to negotiation and will be planned with the organisers from January 25th, which is the deadline for Sway commissions to be completed by.

The deadline for applications is midnight on 9th November 2018.

To discuss, enquire or complain contact    Please look at FAQs before you do.   Please title your email ‘Sway’. 

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